Lakers rout Spurs to finish off sweep
Updated: Monday May 28, 2001 8:05 AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- There's a tidal wave that just keeps building out West, and it's overwhelming anything in its path.
Next victim: the Eastern Conference champion.
"Custer had no idea. That's my statement. Figure it out," Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said. "The roll they're on is ridiculous."
Los Angeles' 11-0 playoff start matches the NBA record set by the 1989 Lakers.
That team was swept by Detroit in the finals after Magic Johnson and Byron Scott were injured. This team looks like a good bet to not only win its second title in a row, but also be the first in NBA history to go through the playoffs undefeated.
The Spurs' David Robinson expects the Lakers to go 15-0.
"Man, if they play like that, there is no way any of the Eastern teams will beat them," Robinson said. "If they play anything like that, there's no chance for them to get beat."
Los Angeles will have at least six days off to await the outcome of the Milwaukee-Philadelphia series in the East.
The Spurs, 58-24 in the regular season, barely put up a fight in a clincher that was even more decisive than the Lakers' 111-72 blowout in Game 3. That one, at least, was close until the middle of the third quarter. This one was history before halftime.
"We thought it was going to be a more difficult game," O'Neal said, "but my teammates keep surprising me.
"It's very impressive. Everybody's doing what they're supposed to do."
Derek Fisher, whose return after missing the first 62 games of the season with a stress fracture in his right foot ignited the Lakers' resurgence, scored a career playoff-high 28 points.
He made 6 of 7 3-pointers, one short of the team playoff record, and 11 of 13 shots overall. Fisher finished the series 15-for-20 from 3-point range.
"I can't say enough about Shaq and Kobe," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said, "but Derek Fisher obviously was the player of the game."
Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant, who went from squabbling superstars to the NBA's most dynamic duo in a matter of weeks, shredded what was left of the Spurs' will in the first half.
"We were getting after them the whole series," Bryant said. "We didn't let down. Even at times when it seemed like we should, we actually turned it up."
O'Neal, showing no hint of trouble from his sore left ankle, scored 23 of his 26 points and grabbed nine of his 10 rebounds in the first half.
Bryant was the maestro once again. He made his first six shots, finished 10-for-19 from the field for 24 points and had 11 assists.
"I can't believe how much better Kobe is, scoring, defensively, giving us open shots," Fisher said. "We all feed off him."
One conspicuous play came as Los Angeles built a 26-point lead in the second quarter. O'Neal had the ball on the fast break, threw a no-look pass to Bryant, who threw it back to Shaq for a stuff.
"Horry was open, too," O'Neal said, "but I gave it to Kobe because I knew I'd get it back."
Then he smiled his only smile of the postgame news conference.
Los Angeles led by 14 in the first quarter, 26 in the second and was up 64-41 at the break. The Spurs cut it to 17 in the third quarter, but never got any closer.
Popovich said the Lakers' play can be compared to the great teams in NBA history.
"You've got to think back to when 'Showtime' was here before, or the Celtics teams, when they were on rolls," Popovich said.
It was an embarrassing end for a team that won 58 regular-season games and was supposed to be part of one of the great playoff series in NBA history, matching the champions of the last two seasons.
San Antonio became the first team with the best regular-season record to be swept in the playoffs since Portland did it to the Lakers in the 1977 West finals. Popovich credited the Lakers rather than blame the Spurs.
"It's a lot of factors, but the main reason for the result of this series is the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team," Popovich said. "They were awesome. That's the bottom line."
Los Angeles never trailed. They shot ahead 11-2 and were up 25-13 after Horace Grant's two free throws with 2:33 left in the first quarter.
The rout was on shortly thereafter in a 11-0 outburst that made it 56-30 on Rick Fox's fast-break basket with 5:12 left in the half. O'Neal had a 9-foot jumper and stuff, Bryant a driving layup and Popovich earned a technical foul during the run as the Staples Center crowd chanted, "Sweep! Sweep!"
O'Neal, who twisted his ankle in Game 3, was 10-for-14 from the field for 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the first half. In the second quarter, he was 6-for-6 as the Lakers shot 61 percent from the field.
Bryant made 6 of 8 shots, scored 14 and had seven assists by halftime, while Fisher was 6-for-8, 2-for-3 on 3-pointers, for 14 points.
Robinson missed his first six shots and had just two points on 1-for-8 shooting in the first half. Duncan scored 14 in the first half. The Spurs made one of six 3-pointers in the first half.
Notes: The Lakers' last loss was April 1, 79-78, at home to New York. ... Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio -- the teams swept by the Lakers -- won 50, 55 and 58 games, respectively, in the regular season. ... The Lakers had 15 assists in their first 17 field goals. ... The Spurs made three of 16 3-pointers to finish 13-for-59 (22 percent) in the series. ... Derek Anderson didn't play in the second half because of cramps in his right shoulder. He was 0-for-9 shooting after returning for the last two games. He separated the shoulder in Game 1 of San Antonio's second-round series against Dallas. ... The shaggy Fox isn't cutting his hair until the Lakers lose.