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This non-call doesn't go way of the Spurs

There are no lucky shots or last-second heroics this team. Rather, it's what the referees let go that has the biggest influence.

May 28, 2008|Jonathan Abrams | Times Staff Writer

SAN ANTONIO -- From one lucky shot deserves another to one non-call begets another.

The Lakers and Spurs have a storied playoff past, highlighted by Derek Fisher's answer to a Tim Duncan shot four seasons ago with his own make during the conference semifinals with 0.4 seconds left.

In Tuesday's Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, it was the non-calls on both ends that perhaps shifted the outcome of the Lakers' 93-91 win.

With 6.9 seconds left and the Lakers up by two points, Fisher misfired on a 17-foot jump shot that appeared to graze the rim.

The ball kicked off the Spurs' Robert Horry and maintained in the Lakers' possession, but the shot clock was not reset and they only had two seconds to fire off another.

Kobe Bryant ended up shooting an air ball on a 16-foot fadeaway and the ball was turned over to San Antonio.

On the next play, Brent Barry missed a three-point basket as time expired, but he appeared to be bumped by Fisher. Again, no whistle from the officiating crew of Joe Crawford, Joe Forte and Mark Wunderlich.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson conceded afterward that Fisher had bumped Barry in his last shot, but also that he was positive Fisher's last shot had grazed the rim.

"From our angle, the ball changed direction and that ball went out of bounds off them and should have been returned to us [with a new shot clock]," Jackson said.

"Not withstanding the fact that Fish did bump him, I thought, and it was a non-call."

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With the toppling of the Spurs' tenure at the top being threatened, they turned to their steady sixth man.

Only, this time it wasn't Manu Ginobili, as it had been the case all season.

A game away from his 30-point performance, Ginobili pulled another vanishing act in Game 4.

Barry stepped on the floor and stepped up in his place.

After scoring 13 points in three games, Barry had 23 when he took and missed the game's last shot that would have given the Spurs the lead and the win.

"We wouldn't have had a chance to win if it wasn't for Brent [on Tuesday]," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said.

Especially with Ginobili again going from spectacular to spectator.

After scoring only 17 points in the series' first two games, Ginobili appeared to have a significant breakthrough in Game 3, making five three-pointers.

But he finished with only seven points Tuesday and made his first field goal in his 31st minute of court time. By that time Sunday, Ginobili already had all of his 30 points.

In the face of Ginobili's struggles, Barry, a 13-year veteran, shined.

"Barry off the bench carried them, gave them a big boost [Tuesday] in replace of Manu, who didn't have a good game," Jackson observed.

The guard played 27 minutes and made five of the Spurs' seven three pointers with a chance to win it.

"[Fisher] ran over from the weak side and as I turned, I didn't expect to see him there," Barry said, acknowledging the Spurs now have a hurdle the size of Mount "Everest to climb."

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com

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