SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich thought he needed
to remind his players of a simple rule.
"You have to play for 48 minutes," Popovich said. "We had two
periods where we did that to start the game, but we didn't compete
for 48 minutes."
It was the teams' first game since last season's Western
Conference finals, when the Lakers swept the Spurs in four games en
route to their second straight NBA title.
On Saturday, the Lakers broke open what had been a closely
played contest by overwhelming the Spurs in the fourth quarter.
They outscored the Spurs 29-18 and outrebounded them 12-4.
San Antonio managed only 36 points in the second half. Their 81
points were a season low.
Center David Robinson sat out the entire fourth quarter after
scoring just four points on 1-of-8 shooting.
"They started hot but then seemed to settle down in the second
(period), right before the half," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
"They let us back into this one."
Tim Duncan, who had 20 points and 15 rebounds, said he doesn't
know why the Spurs have problems maintaining their intensity.
"What we're doing is not good enough," Duncan said. "It's
demoralizing in the sense that it breaks down any momentum you
worked to build."
Los Angeles went 2-1 during Shaquille O'Neal's three-game
suspension for a fight against the Bulls last weekend. The Lakers'
center can return Tuesday against Denver.
Lakers forward Samaki Walker, who played for San Antonio last
year, said he sees a major difference between the teams.
"Over here they don't think about losing," said Walker, who
signed with the Lakers as a free agent. "Even if Shaq doesn't
play, no one talks about losing. We go out looking to win a game."
Los Angeles led 69-63 to start the fourth before Bryant and
Medvedenko led the surge, combining for 13 points in the period.
The Spurs opened the game by taking a 12-3 lead, but with
Medvedenko scoring six points as a reserve, the Lakers closed to
within 24-22 going into the second quarter.
The Lakers took their first lead at 26-24 on Mark Madsen's
layup. The teams traded baskets and leads until a 3-pointer by
Robert Horry put Los Angeles up for good with about four minutes
left in the first half.
The Spurs' last win over the Lakers was a 93-89 overtime
regular-season victory March 9, at the Staples Center. ... The
teams play again Friday in Los Angeles. ... Lakers coach Phil
Jackson tied his former coach with the Knicks, Red Holzman, for
13th on the career list with 696 victories. Jackson was a reserve
on the 1973 Knicks teams that won the NBA title. ... San Antonio
went 1-for-15 on 3-pointers.