for this game

Mason lifts Spurs past Lakers in thriller

Jan 15, 2009 - 6:58 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Lakers came into the AT&T Center with the best record in the league, and nearly pulled off an incredible win, but a 3-point play by Roger Mason with 10 seconds left gave the San Antonio Spurs a 112-111 victory on Wednesday night.

After Kobe Bryant drilled a 3-pointer from the wing over Mason that gave the Lakers a 111-109 lead with 12 seconds left, the Spurs called a timeout, setting up Mason for the heroics.

Matt Bonner had trouble inbounding the ball, but found Mason in the corner. He pumpfaked, then hit a tough shot as he was fouled by Derek Fisher.

"That play wasn't for me, but coach drew up a good play," Mason said. "Matt made a great pass and I caught it and made the play. I saw (Fisher) go for the ball, and I was trying to get some contact and get the shot off. I saw it go in when I fell down."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said it was too close to his bench to see the play.

"There was a collision," he said. "I don't know if Mason created the collision or Fisher did, but there was definitely a collision."

Mason made the ensuing free throw, giving the Spurs a one-point lead.

"Typical stuff," Bryant said. "One of those wild games, but that's why it's fun. Hopefully, they got it out of their system though before the playoffs."

The Lakers had one last chance but Bryant was doubled out high and passed to Trevor Ariza at the top of the key. Ariza made a move to split Bonner and Manu Ginobili, was bumped by Ginobili but was called for a travel with less than a second left on the clock.

"I thought he got tripped," Bryant said of the traveling call.

When asked about the wild finish, Lakers coach Phil Jackson replied, "It's not football, the ball doesn't take funny bounces, but sometimes things go awry."

Bryant, who had 29 points and 10 assists, hit a 3-pointer with 5:55 left in the fourth that cut San Antonio's lead to 102-96. Then, Josh Powell hit two straight 17-footers from the baseline that trimmed the lead to just two points with 4:43 left in the fourth.

Bryant found Lamar Odom for a dunk, and then out of a timeout, Tony Parker missed a 3-pointer. The Lakers wasted little time, with Gasol hitting a 14-footer that gave the Lakers a 106-105 lead with 2:10 left in the game. Bryant then drove, kissing a shot off the glass for a three-point lead.

Duncan responded, shaking Gasol back and forth until he got his jumphook. The Lakers missed their next shot, and the Spurs went back to Duncan who lost control of the ball, but managed to get his shot up and in for a 109-108 Spurs lead.

Bryant then took over with his long shot over Mason, but Mason was able to hit his second game-winner of the season.

"Obviously he has the confidence to do it and the license to do it. We all trust him," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

Ginobili scored 16 of his 27 points by closing out the second and third quarters strongly, including six key points in the final 11 seconds of the third.

At the end of the first quarter, Ginobili wound his way through the paint, weaving between defenders for a difficult layup. Then, George Hill stole the inbounds pass, and was fouled as he flung up a 3-pointer. He made two of the free throws, and the Spurs held a 30-29 lead heading into the second.

With the Spurs leading 50-47, Bryant tucked the ball away like a running back as he glided across the free throw line and threw up a tough running jumper while Mason fouled him for a three-point play.

Ginobili scored the next eight points for the Spurs, and 10 of their last 13 heading into halftime. And the Spurs needed all of them, as the Lakers answered every Spurs shot with a clutch one of their own.

San Antonio opened up the second half with a quick 7-2 run, while the Lakers missed all but one of their first seven attempts.

The Lakers never let things get out of hand though, and never trailed by more than nine points in the third despite Ginobili's best efforts.

Trevor Ariza fouled Ginobili while he was shooting a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in the third. He hit all three free throws, boosting the Spurs' lead to 92-84. Ariza answered back by hitting a corner 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left, but Ginobili received the inbounds pass, raced down, went behind his back to get some space and drained a 3-pointer from the wing as time expired for a 95-87 Spurs lead after three.

Pau Gasol, who scored 21, scored the first eight points for the Lakers - who were without Sasha Vujacic because of back spasms - and finished with 14 in the first quarter. Parker guided San Antonio with 10 in the first.

The home crowd was as charged as it's been all season, perhaps remembering it was the Lakers who knocked the Spurs out of the playoffs last year.

"The fans got their money's worth tonight for sure," Popovich said. "Mason was amazing at the end, and Kone, well, he's the best player on the planet. It was a heck of a game all the way."