<
>

Lakers rally to tie series without Jackson

5/12/2003

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The three-time defending NBA champion Los
Angeles Lakers won a most difficult game without coach Phil
Jackson.

Considering what he's been through recently, maybe it's good
Jackson stayed home to avoid further stress, although it couldn't
have been easy watching the Lakers' 99-95 victory over the San
Antonio Spurs on television Sunday.

"Let's say if he survived this, he's OK,'' said assistant Jim
Cleamons, who filled in for Jackson. Jackson missed the game after
undergoing an angioplasty Saturday to unblock an artery leading to
his heart.

The Lakers won by scoring the game's final six points on two
free throws by Shaquille O'Neal and four by Kobe Bryant to even the
Western Conference semifinals 2-2.

Game 5 will be played Tuesday night in San Antonio and Game 6
Thursday night at Staples Center.

"That's the heart of a champion,'' Bryant said. "We don't
budge, we know that. You knock us down, we get back up. We find a
way to win.''

As far as playing without Jackson was concerned, Bryant said:
"We just look at it as another obstacle. We thrive in these types
of situations.''

Bryant led the Lakers with 35 points, shooting 10-of-24 from the
floor and 14-for-17 from the foul line. He also had a key steal,
picking off an inbound pass by Tony Parker with 14.2 seconds left
and the Lakers leading 98-95.

"I just wanted to get in the passing lane,'' Bryant said. "I
saw the ball in my path and just went for it.''

O'Neal had 29 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and four blocked
shots. He made 17 of 23 free throws.

"I thought he did an incredible job at the foul line,'' said
San Antonio's Tim Duncan, who did pretty well himself, making 16 of
20 free throws.

Duncan shot 10-for-17 from the field in scoring 36 points. He
also had nine rebounds and five assists.

Jackson, whose teams have won a record 25 straight playoff
series and nine championships, missed the first postseason game of
his 13-year career as an NBA head coach. He had experienced
tightness and pain in his chest for about a week. Jackson was
released from the hospital about 2 1/2 hours before Sunday's game.

Cleamons said he spoke with Jackson before the game, at halftime
and afterward.

"From the sound of his voice, he sounded strong, like he was
OK,'' Cleamons said. "I'm hopeful he'll travel with us to San
Antonio tomorrow and be on the bench Tuesday night.''

That decision will be made Monday.

"I put it in perspective. Before the game, I asked myself,
'Would I come to work if I went through what Phil went through?'''
Lakers guard Brian Shaw said. "He called us at halftime and told
us what adjustments to make. We followed his lead. He was calm, and
we stayed calm.''

Derek Fisher added 17 points for the Lakers. Stephen Jackson had
15 points and a playoff career high 10 rebounds and Parker scored
14 for the Spurs.

"We had a pretty good shot. It didn't happen,'' Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich said. "I'm very pleased with the way we competed.
We just have to stay confident and take care of business at home.''

Stephen Jackson's 3-pointer with 1:31 remaining capped a 6-0 run
and gave the Spurs a 95-93 lead, but the Spurs wouldn't score
again.

O'Neal made two free throws 14 seconds later to tie it, and
after the Spurs committed a turnover, Bryant made a free throw with
48 seconds left to put the Lakers ahead for good.

Stephen Jackson missed a 3-pointer with 24 seconds to go,
forcing the Spurs to foul. They got to Bryant with 14.2 seconds
left, and he made two more foul shots, making it 98-95.

Bryant then stole Parker's inbound pass and added another free
throw to complete the scoring.

"We let this game get away from us,'' Stephen Jackson said.
"This is one we definitely should have had.''

The Spurs led 64-55 when Duncan went to the bench with 2:54 left
in the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul on Bryant.

Duncan would say afterward he didn't touch Bryant.

The Lakers quickly took advantage, outscoring the Spurs 16-3 for
a 71-67 lead. Bryant had six points, Fisher four, and Devean George
and Shaw made 3-pointers, with Shaw banking his in from about 30
feet as the period ended.

That was similar to what happened with Duncan on the bench at
the end of the second quarter.

He picked up his third foul with 3:37 left and the Spurs holding
a 43-27 lead -- the largest of the game for either team. The Lakers
then outscored the Spurs 12-3 to finish the half, making it 46-39.

Game notes
San Antonio's David Robinson fouled out with 7:13 left with
no points and three rebounds. He played only 14 minutes. ... Phil
Jackson missed three games because of a kidney stone that was
removed on Feb. 24. Before that, he had coached 1,249
regular-season and playoff games without missing any in nearly 13
seasons. ... O'Neal became the seventh-leading scorer in playoff
history midway through the third quarter, passing former Houston
star Hakeem Olajuwon. O'Neal entered trailing Olajuwon by 14 points
and John Havlicek by 35. ... O'Neal has already passed Wilt
Chamberlain, Scottie Pippen, Elgin Baylor and Magic Johnson in
career points during these playoffs. ... Ben Affleck and Jennifer
Lopez had courtside seats, not far from Jack Nicholson.