for this game

Bryant, Lakers take on Spurs in Game One

May 21, 2008 - 2:31 PM San Antonio at LA Lakers 9:00 pm EDT Western Conference final Game One

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) - The defending champion San Antonio Spurs visit Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday in Game One of the Western Conference finals.

The teams have combined to win seven of the last nine NBA titles with the Spurs winning three of the last five.

The Spurs rallied from an 0-2 series deficit to defeat the New Orleans Hornets in seven games during the conference semifinals, using their veteran experience to stifle the younger Hornets. San Antonio won, 91-82, at New Orleans in Game Seven on Monday.

It is the first time San Antonio has reached the conference finals the year after winning the championship.

"I think for us it was defense," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We really concentrated on the fact that it might help fuel our offense. We wanted to try to keep them off balance, so we changed defenses tonight more than we did in any other game, and maybe it helped us a bit."

San Antonio's defense will certainly be put to the test against the Lakers, who have averaged 112.1 points during the postseason.

The league's Most Valuable Player, Bryant is averaging 33.3 points, 6.8 assists and 6.3 rebounds during the playoffs. The 29-year-old has failed to score 30 points only twice in 10 games this postseason.

Bryant was bothered by a sore back in Games Five and Six against the Utah Jazz, but is apparently recovered after four days of rest.

"It feels good (to advance). It feels great," Bryant said after Game Six on Friday. "We're excited about (going to the conference finals). It's been a great journey so far, and we want to keep it rolling. We're proud of what we've accomplished, but we believe we can accomplish much more."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson is 10-1 in conference finals, losing only with the Chicago Bulls in 1990.