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They've Lost Finishing Touch

May 12, 2003|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

With three minutes left in the fourth quarter, San Antonio trailed the Lakers by four points, 93-89, and everything seemed to be going in the home team's favor. But the Spurs responded behind three points by Tim Duncan and a three-point basket by Stephen Jackson to take a 95-93 lead with 1:31 left.

That's when things began to really fall apart for the Spurs, who did not score again.

"That's why it hurts even more," said Jackson, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds but had five turnovers. "We worked hard to win this game and then to let this get away at the end is frustrating."

On their final possessions, Duncan turned the ball over with a bad pass, Jackson forced a low-percentage three-pointer to beat the 24-second clock, Tony Parker had an inbounds pass stolen by Kobe Bryant and Danny Ferry turned the ball over to Shaquille O'Neal.

"We couldn't make big plays at the end and they did," said Parker, who had 14 points, four assists and four rebounds. "Not [executing] was the difference."

Added Malik Rose: "It's frustrating because when [things went wrong], we seemed to let up and they got back into the game. We made some mistakes, it wasn't so much the things that they did."


One area the Spurs need to improve for Game 5 is closing out quarters. The Lakers outscored San Antonio, 12-3, to end the second quarter in erasing much of a 16-point deficit, and 16-3 to end the third, which put the Lakers ahead by four.

"That's huge," Parker said of the Spurs' poor play over the final minutes of those quarters. "[Coach Gregg Popovich] told us that one of the big things to do in order to beat the Lakers is to finish every quarter strong. We didn't do that today and it hurt us."

Both late Laker runs came with Duncan on the bench because of foul trouble.

"Everyone knows that Tim is our offense," Parker said. "When he got into foul trouble we struggled."


After the first two games of the series, the Lakers complained about the disparity in free throws attempted by the teams. Now, that role belongs to the Spurs, who attempted 26 free throws Sunday to 45 by the Lakers, including 23 by O'Neal and 17 by Bryant.

"Defensively, I thought we were pretty solid," Duncan said. "[But] 45 free throws? ... There's not much you can do about that, when they get 20 more free throws than you. Other than that, I thought we did a good job [defensively]."

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