The Spurs did exactly that, holding O'Neal to just a pair of
field goals, and defeated the Lakers with ease Wednesday night,
O'Neal finished with 17 points, 13 of them coming from the foul
"We played a good, aggressive game on defense," Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich said. "It allowed us to get into situations to push
the basketball. We moved it well."
The Spurs led by as many as 34 points in the second half while
winning their 10th straight. It was their first victory over Los
Angeles in three tries this season.
The Lakers had beaten the Spurs six consecutive times, including
a four-game sweep in last year's Western Conference finals. O'Neal
averaged 27 points in that series, and he scored 25 in his only
game against the Spurs this season.
O'Neal traced Wednesday's loss back to a night earlier, when Los
Angeles was pummelled by the Mavericks in Dallas, 114-98.
"Last night we got beat straight-out and tonight we came out
flat," he said. "They hit some shots early that put us back on
A 22-point lead at the half didn't tempt San Antonio to throttle
back and possibly let the Lakers back into the game.
"We came out real focused in the second half," said Tim
Duncan, who led the Spurs with 25 points. "The first five to seven
minutes of the half is when teams usually make their run. We were
able to sustain our energy tonight."
Bryant was shadowed on the floor by Spurs' defensive specialist
"He did a good job of taking us out of our rhythm, which is for
me to initiate the offense," Bryant said.
O'Neal, who led all rebounders with 10, made both of his field
goals in the first half. He didn't take a single shot from the
floor in the second half. The 7-foot-1 center is averaging 27.5
What was supposed to be a battle between two of the NBA's best
teams turned into a rout almost from the get-go.
San Antonio started to pull away midway through the first
period. Duncan connected on three straight jumpers to key a 15-6
run that put the Spurs up by 11 late in the quarter.
The Lakers made only three of 15 shots in the second, and the
Spurs built their advantage as high as 23.
Bryant went cold after 5-for-6 shooting in the opening period,
and O'Neal managed to make only one field goal in six attempts.
Rose scored 10 points in the second quarter for San Antonio,
which shot 59 percent to take a 62-40 lead at the break. Duncan
finished the half with 19 points.
The game was so lopsided in the second half that Turner
Sports switched to coverage of the Nuggets-Wizards game. ... The
Lakers are 7-9 in the second of back-to-back games. ... The Spurs
currently have the longest winning streak in the NBA and are
undefeated in March. ... Danny Ferry, who scored a season-high 18
points against Boston on Saturday, made his first start of the
season for San Antonio. ... O'Neal didn't score his first basket
until 4:45 remained in the first quarter. His only other one came
with 4:40 left in the half. ... The teams meet for the final time
during the regular season on March 31 in Los Angeles.