for this game

Lakers hold off Spurs, take 3-1 lead in series

May 28, 2008 - 5:39 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) - Kobe Bryant had 28 points and 10 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers moved within one game of eliminating the San Antonio Spurs with a 93-91 win on Tuesday night in Game Four of the Western Conference finals.

The top-seeded Lakers now own a commanding 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series and will try to close out San Antonio in Game Five at Staples Center on Thursday.

"Well, that was an interesting conclusion to a game that I felt we had played really well," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We didn't manage the clock well at the end of the game, and we almost suffered the consequences for it."

Brent Barry missed a chance to win the game for the Spurs with a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

"Tough loss," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I thought we fought back all night long. We did a good job of being persistent and not giving in at all. We just didn't quite get it done, so now we have a lot of work ahead of us."

Lakers forward Lamar Odom, coming off a horrid Game Four, scored 16 points - including including five in a key late stretch. He also grabbed nine rebounds.

Tim Duncan collected 29 points and 13 rebounds for the Spurs, who suffered their first loss at the AT&T Center in 13 games in the postseason.

"This is our first defeat here, and we had a hill to climb being down 0-2, and now we have Everest to climb being down 3-1," said Barry, who scored a playoff career-high 23 points.

The defending champion Spurs didn't go quietly, as Odom was called for goaltending on Tony Parker's fast-break layup, cutting the lead to 93-91.

"They have the hearts of a champion, and they showed it right to the last second," Odom said.

After playing solid defense on the next possession, the Spurs forced an errant jumper by the Lakers that went off Robert Horry's leg out of bounds.

It gave the Lakers the ball back with two seconds on the shot clock, but Bryant's jumper fell short to give the Spurs one more chance with 2.1 seconds left.

Horry inbounded the ball to Barry, who pump-faked, drew contact from Derek Fisher and threw up a wild 3-point attempt at the buzzer that was wide right.

Afterward, both teams agreed Barry was bumped by Fisher, but they also agreed that a no call was the right decision.

"That is not going to get called," Barry said. "Derek Fisher made a great defensive play. There was contact for sure, but I don't think I ran through him. I didn't initiate any contact. ... I never thought they would call a foul."

"No way," Bryant said. "Not with all the contact that was going on during the game."

Jackson said Barry was bumped, but managed to deflect the question, eventually throwing in his own observation about Bryant's lack of free throws.

"As you guys know, he didn't get to the foul line," Jackson said. "That doesn't happen in a basketball game. It is impossible to take 29 shots and not be fouled, but this was one of those exceptions, I guess."

The Spurs started the fourth quarter on a 5-0 run, including Barry's 3-pointer from the top of the key. But Los Angeles still held a 77-75 lead and they still had Bryant, who, after a timeout, hit yet another jumper to silence the Spurs' crowd.

"Every time we had a chance to get close, they hit a big three or they got a big rebound," Parker said. "They just kept scoring, and we never really had a chance to make a run."

The Lakers also held a sizable advantage in second-chance points, outscoring the Spurs, 26-4.

Ginobili, who struggled offensively with just seven points, hit an 18-footer at the top of the key that trimmed the deficit to 81-79. But Odom answered with five straight points and Bryant's steal led to an easy dunk to make it 88-79 with 3:26 remaining.

Despite being blitzed, 22-8, with 5:06 left in the first, the Spurs used a 15-6 run to end the first quarter and trailed by just five heading into the second.

But Los Angeles always seemed to have an answer for one of San Antonio's runs. Fisher and Vladimir Radmanovic each had big 3-pointers that seized the momentum back.

Barry hit a pair of free throws and Parker completed a three-point play that tied the game at 43-43 with 3:16 remaining in the first half.

Duncan's 10-footer in the paint tied things at 45-45, but the Lakers fired back to regain the lead behind an 8-2 surge over the final two minutes to forge a 53-47 advantage at halftime.

Ginobili started the second half in place of Michael Finley, who never got going offensively. With the Spurs trailing, 65-58, midway through the third, Barry's 3-pointer sparked a 7-0 run that was capped when Parker nailed a jumper with 4:36 left.

A pair of Ginobili free throws cut the lead to 71-70 with under two minutes left in the third, but Bryant drove the baseline for a two-handed slam and Sasha Vujacic finished a rare four-point play for a 77-70 lead.