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First Three Quarters Are the Problem

May 15, 2003|Tim Brown | Times Staff Writer

The fourth quarter of Game 5 might not have been a total waste for the Lakers.

Primarily because of Kobe Bryant, who is averaging 13 points in fourth quarters this series, it is clear the Lakers are the late-game aggressors in this series, with the Spurs leaning toward timid or reckless, depending on the possession. The Lakers have outscored the Spurs by 26 points in the fourth quarter, when Tim Duncan has missed 15 of 20 shots.

It appears the Spurs will have to play every minute of the series, and there are questions about their stomachs for that. After Game 5, Stephen Jackson said, "Everybody gets nervous. And I took a couple of shots I wasn't too confident about."

Watching the last of a 25-point lead possibly disappear from beneath the arc of a Robert Horry three-pointer wouldn't seem to be any way to finish the Lakers, though it somehow worked.

"We pressured them, forced them into tough situations," Bryant said. "We felt like if we could cut the lead to within 10, they'd start to feel the pressure and things would start going in our favor. And they did.

"Everything bounced our way except for that last shot."

The problem for the Lakers is that they require such fourth-quarter heroics. The Spurs have had substantial leads in all but Game 3; by 11 points in Game 1, 33 in Game 2, 16 in Game 4 and 25 in Game 5.

The Lakers won Game 4 and were just short in Game 5, which was of no consolation to Coach Phil Jackson.

"We need to play with that level of intensity in the course of the first 36 minutes of this next game to have the opportunity to win in the fourth quarter of Game No. 6 and force 7," he said.


Bryant was supportive when told Horry felt bad about missing the last shot on Tuesday.

"I don't know for what," Bryant said. "Everybody's putting a lot of pressure on our so-called role players, or supporting cast or whatever you guys want to call them, to step out there and produce. To put big points on the board. I'm not. I don't want them to feel that type of pressure. They should go out and play loose, do the intangibles to help us win ballgames, when they have open opportunities shoot 'em, knock 'em down.

"[Horry] shouldn't feel pressure, he shouldn't feel particularly bad about that last shot. He had a good look. He's made so many before [Tuesday] night. If he has an opportunity in the next game, I'll give it to him again."


Bryant is averaging 34.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in the series.... Slava Medvedenko, who had played 29 postseason minutes before Game 5, played 17 on Tuesday.... After playing 40 minutes in Game 4, Devean George was reduced to 25 in Game 5 and had two points and one rebound.... For tonight's telecast, Channel 7 will offer a secondary Spanish-language audio from radio station KWKW (1330), with Laker announcers Fernando Gonzalez and Pepe Mantilla.

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