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SPUR NOTES

He Picked Bad Time to Toss Shutout

May 07, 2003|Elliott Teaford | Times Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO — Stephen Jackson's line in the box score was every bit as ugly as the game he played Monday against the Lakers.

Jackson, the San Antonio Spurs' starting shooting guard, missed all six of his shots, including three beyond the three-point arc, and had four rebounds, three assists, three fouls, four turnovers and one heated conversation with his coach. Jackson did not score in 26 minutes.

"The refs got to me," he said Tuesday after practice. "I think I was sitting out too long. I just had a bad night. No excuses. We won. I'm happy. I know I have to perform better. My focus wasn't there. I think I was a little too excited and too ready to play. These are my first playoff rounds. I couldn't sleep the night before, but I learned from [Monday] night."

Jackson rushed shots, barked at the referees, then got an earful from Coach Gregg Popovich midway through the third quarter of San Antonio's 87-82 victory in Game 1.

Jackson averaged 16.2 points and 4.8 rebounds in the Spurs' opening-round victory over the Phoenix Suns, bettering his regular-season averages of 11.8 points and 3.6 rebounds. But on Monday he looked out of sorts.

"Stephen had a tough night," Popovich said. "That happens now and then. Usually, he bounces back. It didn't have anything to do with playing basketball. It had to do with emotions. We expect him to be more focused on basketball instead of on the stuff around him."

Jackson played only two minutes after picking up his third foul, on a charge, with 6:04 remaining in the third quarter. He attempted one shot in the fourth quarter, missing a short jumper, then went to the bench for the rest of the game.

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Despite the Spurs' 21-for-35 shooting from the free-throw line (60%), Popovich seemed delighted about the Spurs' aggressive moves toward the basket. He waved off complaints by Laker Coach Phil Jackson that the Spurs got a better deal from the referees. The Lakers were nine for 12 at the line (75%).

"We attacked the rim well, but we just didn't shoot free throws very well, and haven't all year," Popovich said, referring to the Spurs' regular-season average of 72.5% from the line.

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Manu Ginobili was one of the Spurs who went purposefully to the basket Monday. Ginobili said he grew weary of missing layups and of failing to draw fouls against Laker defenders, which explained why he threw down a reverse dunk in the early moments of the fourth quarter.

"I went hard to the rim, but every time I get a soft layup it doesn't take, so I just go harder to the rim," said Ginobili of two of his 15 points in 30 minutes.

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Ginobili had no idea how Laker Devean George sprained his left ankle early in the fourth quarter. Replays indicated George landed awkwardly on Ginobili's foot after challenging his layup attempt.

"I was fouled," Ginobili said, "and I was falling forward and he was grabbing me and screaming."

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