San Antonio providing no resistance to powerful Lakers
By Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated
LOS ANGELES -- Next!
Bring on the Sixers or Bucks.
The Spurs certainly cannot. Not after Friday night. Not after getting poleaxed by 39 points in a game they desperately needed.
Barring a miracle, the Spurs are history in Game 4. Never mind that no team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series.
The Spurs might not be able to win one game.
"I have to wonder deep down in their guts if their belief is waning," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admitted.
San Antonio certainly looked like a team in doubt after Game 3. In the funereal postgame locker room, they showered and dressed quickly, barely looking into each other's eyes. They mouthed all the right "one game at a time" platitudes, but underneath it all was a sense of inevitability.
"That team's on a roll. It's so hard to stop a team like that," said guard Derek Anderson, whose dramatic comeback was pierced by an 0-for-8 shooting night. "Words can't really describe how well they're playing."
Added Spurs center David Robinson, "Wow. I don't know what to say. That was a total dismantling."
The Lakers, winners of an unfathomable 18 in a row, not only dismantled the Spurs. They ripped their hearts out.
L.A. outshot San Antonio 47.8 percent to 32.1 percent and hammered the Spurs on the boards, 63-35. Shaq was unstoppable, getting deep touches at will. Kobe did his usual damage from all over the court.
Meanwhile the Twin Towers looked like lawn gnomes.
Duncan finished with just nine points on 3-of-14 shooting. On one play, Kobe drove baseline into Duncan and Robinson, missed the shot, but Shaq collected the rebound and rammed home the dunk, drawing a foul in the process.
As the Staples Center crowd roared, the Twin Towers just looked at each other in seeming disbelief.
"Their transition defense, their half court defense," Popovich said, beginning to list the various facets of the Lakers that impressed him. "They shot the ball well, hit the boards hard, doubled our offensive rebounds. and [our] shooting 32 percent makes things difficult."
The most telling aspect for the future of this series, however, was how the Spurs fell apart mentally.
As the Lakers kept laying down their version of L.A. law, San Antonio's bodies slumped and heads sagged. The Spurs managed just eight points in the fourth quarter.
"I've never experienced anything like that," Robinson admitted.
The good news for San Antonio is that it only has to wait two days for the next game.
Cigarette and blind fold, please.