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GAME 4 REPORT

From The Other Side

May 24, 1999

What writers in Texas are saying about the series:

BUCK HARVEY, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS

Soft Spurs? Catchy name for a new line of golf shoes.

If the phrase sounds familiar, that's because it once described an NBA team in South Texas. But that changed after a few days in May 1999. Standing next to these Lakers has a way of doing that.

The Jazz swept the Lakers last season and never looked better. There's something about spinning around Shaq and watching Kobe spin out that enhances every reputation. So when the Spurs got a boost that not even the Paula Jones Celebrity Psychic Hotline saw coming when a journeyman named Jaren Jackson acted more like Glen Rice than Glen Rice did, they are ready to . . . swap their old image.

The only ones who look worse than the Lakers today are the Rockets. What was Scottie Pippen thinking in the previous series?

Probably what he was thinking two years ago. Nothing. Then Pippen and his Bulls were on their way to a title, too unaware to notice a shift in power. Then the Spurs won the draft lottery and thus Tim Duncan.

Saturday Pippen's old Bulls won the lottery, but they won't find a Duncan. These tall, versatile packages come around about as often as the Magic Johnsons do. And maybe that's why Magic publicly talks about the flaws in Shaq. When Magic sees Duncan, he sees something from the Magic-Bird era.

Duncan grew up idolizing Magic's Lakers. Now he tortures them, and treating J.R. Reid like a bathtub toy again was just part of it. Duncan got his first-ever win in the Forum with an unusual string of free throws, but in his usual role. He provides the one prong chemistry, the clear vision, the concept of who fits where and why.

Mario Elie says it's a chiefs-Indians thing. The Spurs know who their go-to guy is, whereas the Lakers aren't sure of theirs on consecutive dribbles.

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