Ginobili sparks Spurs in rout of LakersMay 26, 2008 - 4:54 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Manu Ginobili finally found his form.
Ginobili came off the bench to lead the way with 30 points as the San Antonio Spurs grabbed their first win of the Western Conference finals with a 103-84 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
"It's really not a surprise anymore," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Ginobili. "(He) is such a competitor. He puts so much on his shoulders, and he fights through a lot of things. He's got a lot of confidence in what he can do."
The Lakers still hold a 2-1 edge heading into Game Four of the best-of-seven series here on Tuesday.
Tim Duncan had 22 points and 21 rebounds and Tony Parker chipped in 20 points for the Spurs, who received 72 points combined from the trio of Ginobili, Duncan and Parker.
Duncan said he knew Ginobili would rebound from his past two outings, but did not fully expect the performance from his Argentine teammate Sunday.
"We knew he was going to be aggressive. We knew he was going to try and turn this series around for himself," Duncan said. "We expected big things from him. ... He's the guy we need to put the ball in the hole. He scores points that aren't easy."
The Spurs, which led, 69-57, after three quarters, started the fourth on a 12-4 run that extended their lead to 20 points with 8:10 left in the game.
Ginobili, who scored just 17 points combined in the first two games, had 22 points by halftime. The reigning Sixth Man of the Year also put the game to rest with a three-point play that gave San Antonio a 97-78 with 3:26 left in the game.
"I was too stagnant in the first two games," Ginobili said. "I didn't feel like I was being me. So that's why I really wanted to attack the rim, especially the first minutes I was there."
The Lakers 1-2 punch of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were forced to the bench shortly thereafter.
"It was all the Argentina flags that were out there," Bryant quipped. "It must have felt like home. (Ginobili) hit a lot of big shots. He hit one shot that just made me laugh. ... He is a phenomenal player and he had a spectacular first half."
Lakers coach Phil Jackson agreed.
"Those shots he was making, it didn't matter who you put on him," he said. "The guys were on him defensively, and I thought those were just impossible shots."
Bryant, who finished with 30 points to lead Los Angeles, made things interesting midway through the fourth when he scored nine points on three possessions. He missed a free throw that could have given resulted in a four-point play.
The league Most Valuable Player hit another 3-pointer with under five minutes left in the game that cut the deficit to 88-76, but Duncan's strong move over Gasol on the next possession turned into a three-point play.
"If we can't get stops, it doesn't matter," Bryant said. "We had a point there where we cut it to 12 or nine, and we couldn't get stops. So, whether I go off for a 20-point quarter or 15-point quarter, we still have to get stops."
It didn't help that Bryant's supporting cast was less than stellar. Gasol and Lamar Odom were a combined 9-for-29 from the field.
"I think they weren't decisive enough on what they wanted to get done," Jackson said. "They had their opportunities and missed some layups and things just didn't go well."
"There's no way I can play like that for us to be successful," Odom said. "I'll take the blame on that. I know I can play better than that."
It would be tough for Ginobili to play much better. His impact was immediate, hitting back-to back 3-pointers with 3:35 left in the quarter to trim an early deficit to 15-14.
Ginobili and Bryant both scored eight points in the first, but the Lakers held a 24-21 lead heading into the second period.
With 9:08 left in the second, a Lakers turnover led to a bounce pass from Brent Barry to a blazing Parker to give the Spurs their first lead, 27-26, since early in the first.
Ginobili then struck again, hitting back-to-back 3-pointers for the Spurs with just over seven minutes left in the second. It gave the Spurs a 33-30 lead before Bryant countered with an 18-footer.
Parker's 15-footer increased the Spurs' lead to 46-36 with 2:09 left in the first half.
Ginobili tested his luck late in the first half with a fade-away 3-pointer with 58 seconds remaining that put the Spurs up, 49-37.
"It shows a lot of heart," Parker said. "He took some crazy shots, but they went in and that is the Manu we know. He was playing unbelievable."
Bryant's quick layup made it a 10-point halftime deficit.
Duncan had eight points and six rebounds in the third quarter to help the Spurs maintain their lead. Michael Finley's shot from the arc early in the quarter gave the Spurs a 54-41 lead before Los Angeles rallied, but the Lakers never got the lead under eight points the rest of the way.
Gasol and Jordan Farmar were the only other Lakers in double figures, with 15 and 10 points, respectively.
Bryant said the Spurs defense bothered the Lakers rhythm, but they still had plenty of chances.
"We just missed a lot of bunnies, a lot of easy ones," Bryant said. "It just rolled off the rim."
LA LAKERS 84
SAN ANTONIO 103 FINAL
May 25 11:01 PM
LA LAKERS 57
SAN ANTONIO 69 END, 3RD QTR
May 25 10:21 PM
LA LAKERS 39
SAN ANTONIO 49 HALFTIME
May 25 9:34 PM
LA LAKERS 24
SAN ANTONIO 21 END, 1ST QTR
May 25 9:01 PM
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