Fri, May 09, 2003 - Page 24 News List

Lakers down two games to zip

NBA ACTION In a blink of an eye, the Spurs handed LA a pair of losses, while the Nets continue to show Boston how to play hoops

AP , SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS ANDEAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY

The Los Angeles Lakers Shaquille O'Neal falls to the floor as San Antonio Spurs Tim Duncan drives to the basket during the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals Playoff game against the San Antonio Spurs at the SBC Center in San Antonio, Texas, on Wednesday. The Spurs defeated the Lakers 114-95.

PHOTO: AFP

Shaquille O'Neal and the Los Angeles Lakers are going home in an unfamiliar position -- thoroughly embarrassed and down 2-0 to the San Antonio Spurs.

"We're in a dangerous spot," O'Neal said Wednesday night after the Lakers' 114-95 loss in Game 2. ``But this team can bounce back. We now have to take care of business in Los Angeles.''

The three-time defending champions hadn't lost the first two games in any of their 13 postseason series since San Antonio swept them in 1999.

Los Angeles has defeated San Antonio in the playoffs the past two seasons, sweeping them in 2001 and winning 4-1 last year.

San Antonio knows the series, which resume Friday night in Los Angeles, is far from over despite the Game 2 trouncing, in which the Spurs led by as many as 33 points in the second half.

"We have to go [into Game 3] with the same energy," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said. "We did our part keeping home court. We have to focus on the first game and really put the pressure on their shoulders."

Also Wednesday night, New Jersey beat Boston 104-95 to take a 2-0 series lead. The other conference semifinals resume Thursday night, with Philadelphia at Detroit, and Sacramento at Dallas. Detroit and Sacramento lead 1-0.

Bruce Bowen, whose main mission in the series is to defend Kobe Bryant, led the Spurs in scoring with a career playoff-high 27 points. He was 7-of-8 from 3-point range and 10-for-12 overall.

At the other end, Bowen harassed Bryant into a subpar shooting performance.

"It's the best game I've had as an NBA player," said Bowen, who averaged 5.6 points in his previous seven playoff games this year. "My main focus was defense tonight -- Kobe, being who he is, was going to come out aggressive tonight and try to take over the game."

The game became lopsided early and stayed that way, with Bryant and O'Neal watching most of the fourth quarter from the bench. O'Neal and Bryant each scored 27 points, but Bryant was 9-of-24 from the field.

O'Neal had four fouls, three of them offensive, which prompted Lakers coach Phil Jackson to criticize the referees, as he did after San Antonio's narrow victory in Game 1.

"What he's doing he's done his whole career," Jackson said of O'Neal's physical play on offense. "They're taking away his game."

San Antonio built a 13-point lead in the first period and kept extending it. The Spurs led by 17 at the half, went ahead by 33 in the third quarter and led by 27 entering the fourth.

"Everyone really got into the continuity of the game," said San Antonio's David Robinson. "We did a great job tonight of penetrating and finding seams."

Manu Ginobili finished with 17 points, Tony Parker had 16 and Speedy Claxton 15.

Nets 104, Celtics 95

Richard Jefferson scored 25 points and made the Nets' first basket of a fourth quarter rally Wednesday that gave New Jersey a 104-95 win over the Boston Celtics and a 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

Jason Kidd added 23 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, while Kenyon Martin had 14 points and 10 rebounds to again dominated his matchup with Boston's Antoine Walker. Walker had just seven points on 3-for-15 shooting.

Paul Pierce, who turned his ankle late in the game, led the Celtics with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. But he also had six of Boston's 21 turnovers, and Walker had five. Tony Delk added 19 points.

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