Alive and kicking
Lakers rally from 16 down behind Bryant for crucial winPosted: Sunday May 11, 2003 6:37 PM
Updated: Monday May 12, 2003 2:46 AM
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The three-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers won a most difficult game without coach Phil Jackson.
Considering what he's been through recently, maybe it's good Jackson stayed home to avoid further stress, although it couldn't have been easy watching the Lakers' 99-95 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on television Sunday.
"Let's say if he survived this, he's OK," said assistant Jim Cleamons, who filled in for Jackson. Jackson missed the game after undergoing an angioplasty Saturday to unblock an artery leading to his heart.
The Lakers won by scoring the game's final six points on two free throws by Shaquille O'Neal and four by Kobe Bryant to even the Western Conference semifinals 2-2.
Game 5 will be played Tuesday night in San Antonio and Game 6 Thursday night at Staples Center.
As far as playing without Jackson was concerned, Bryant said: "We just look at it as another obstacle. We thrive in these types of situations."
Bryant led the Lakers with 35 points, shooting 10-of-24 from the floor and 14-for-17 from the foul line. He also had a key steal, picking off an inbound pass by Tony Parker with 14.2 seconds left and the Lakers leading 98-95.
"I just wanted to get in the passing lane," Bryant said. "I saw the ball in my path and just went for it."
O'Neal had 29 points, 17 rebounds, five assists and four blocked shots. He made 17 of 23 free throws.
"I thought he did an incredible job at the foul line," said San Antonio's Tim Duncan, who did pretty well himself, making 16 of 20 free throws.
Duncan shot 10-for-17 from the field in scoring 36 points. He also had nine rebounds and five assists.
Cleamons said he spoke with Jackson before the game, at halftime and afterward.
"From the sound of his voice, he sounded strong, like he was OK," Cleamons said. "I'm hopeful he'll travel with us to San Antonio tomorrow and be on the bench Tuesday night."
That decision will be made Monday.
"I put it in perspective. Before the game, I asked myself, `Would I come to work if I went through what Phil went through?"' Lakers guard Brian Shaw said. "He called us at halftime and told us what adjustments to make. We followed his lead. He was calm, and we stayed calm."
Derek Fisher added 17 points for the Lakers. Stephen Jackson had 15 points and a playoff career high 10 rebounds and Parker scored 14 for the Spurs.
"We had a pretty good shot. It didn't happen," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "I'm very pleased with the way we competed. We just have to stay confident and take care of business at home."
Stephen Jackson's 3-pointer with 1:31 remaining capped a 6-0 run and gave the Spurs a 95-93 lead, but the Spurs wouldn't score again.
O'Neal made two free throws 14 seconds later to tie it, and after the Spurs committed a turnover, Bryant made a free throw with 48 seconds left to put the Lakers ahead for good.
Stephen Jackson missed a 3-pointer with 24 seconds to go, forcing the Spurs to foul. They got to Bryant with 14.2 seconds left, and he made two more foul shots, making it 98-95.
Bryant then stole Parker's inbound pass and added another free throw to complete the scoring.
"We let this game get away from us," Stephen Jackson said. "This is one we definitely should have had."
The Spurs led 64-55 when Duncan went to the bench with 2:54 left in the third quarter after picking up his fourth foul on Bryant.
Duncan would say afterward he didn't touch Bryant.
The Lakers quickly took advantage, outscoring the Spurs 16-3 for a 71-67 lead. Bryant had six points, Fisher four, and Devean George and Shaw made 3-pointers, with Shaw banking his in from about 30 feet as the period ended.
That was similar to what happened with Duncan on the bench at the end of the second quarter.
He picked up his third foul with 3:37 left and the Spurs holding a 43-27 lead -- the largest of the game for either team. The Lakers then outscored the Spurs 12-3 to finish the half, making it 46-39.
Notes: San Antonio's David Robinson fouled out with 7:13 left with no points and three rebounds. He played only 14 minutes. ... Phil Jackson missed three games because of a kidney stone that was removed on Feb. 24. Before that, he had coached 1,249 regular-season and playoff games without missing any in nearly 13 seasons. ... O'Neal became the seventh-leading scorer in playoff history midway through the third quarter, passing former Houston star Hakeem Olajuwon. O'Neal entered trailing Olajuwon by 14 points and John Havlicek by 35. ... O'Neal has already passed Wilt Chamberlain, Scottie Pippen, Elgin Baylor and Magic Johnson in career points during these playoffs. ... Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez had courtside seats, not far from Jack Nicholson.