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Lakers still perfect in the playoffs

Los Angeles rallies to beat the Spurs 88-81 and take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference final.

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 22, 2001

SAN ANTONIO -- The Los Angeles Lakers took the Spurs' best shot and are still standing.

The Lakers, down 14 in the first half, outscored the Spurs 13-5 over the final 6:11 and beat the Spurs 88-81 Monday night.

Los Angeles' 17th consecutive victory and ninth in the playoffs gave it a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference final.

The Lakers can sweep San Antonio with a pair of home-court victories. Game 3 is Friday night at the Staples Center.

The intense, rough win was largely fueled by Lakers role players, and coach Phil Jackson wasn't around to see the end of it. He drew two technical fouls in five minutes in the third quarter and was ejected with 3:59 left in the quarter.

"I think the turning point was when Phil got thrown out of the game," Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal said. "I pulled the guys in the huddle and told them, "Let's go, let's just play loose.' They gave us all they had."

Kobe Bryant followed his 45-point performance in Game 1 with 28 points, including a three-pointer with 1:10 to play that put Los Angeles ahead 85-78.

Tim Duncan scored a career playoff-high 40 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Spurs, and Antonio Daniels added 24 points, also a career playoff high. Both were perfect from the free-throw line, Daniels 12-for-12 and Duncan 9-for-9.

But Duncan's twin tower, David Robinson, struggled through a foul-plagued night trying to guard O'Neal. Robinson, who drew his third and fourth fouls in one second in the third quarter, had seven points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes.

"With the two of us in there, it puts pressure on them," Robinson said. "With one of us out there, it puts a lot of pressure on Tim."

San Antonio struggled from long range for the second straight game. The Spurs made 4 of 16 three-point attempts, 1-of-6 in the fourth quarter, after going 5-for-15 in Game 1.

O'Neal had 19 points, 11 below his playoff average, and 14 rebounds. He was 8-of-21 from the field, but he scored to put Los Angeles up 82-78 with 1:53 to go.

Sixers limp on

PHILADELPHIA -- Allen Iverson walked around with the gait of a 70-year-old man.

Both hands pressed against his lower back, slightly bent over as he shuffled past a team official, he said: "What are we calling this injury?"

Officially, it's a right hip and buttocks bruise, although Iverson used language that was a little more raw.

"I'm just sore," Iverson said. "I haven't even tried to run yet."

Iverson and the rest of the bruised and battered 76ers will have very little time to recover from their injuries as their Eastern Conference final against the Bucks begins tonight.

Perhaps the only redeeming aspect for the Sixers is that the Bucks, too, are coming off an emotionally draining seven-game series in the second round. Both teams barely will have enough time to catch their breath.

"Sitting in a car by myself last night, I was just trying to breathe," Iverson said. "Everything that went on this year has been a hard ride, a bumpy ride."

BLAZERS: A serious knee injury wiped out the last three weeks of Bonzi Wells' best NBA season. It has made him only more determined to get healthy this summer and help the team atone for its failures.

Looking trim and sounding like his old, playful self, Wells said he plans to be at "120 percent" when camp opens this fall.

WARRIORS: The team exercised its option to claim the Pacers' first-round selection in the draft, general manager Garry St. Jean said. Golden State had until June 1 to decide whether to use the pick, the 14th overall.

GRIZZLIES MOVE: About 100 people in Memphis, Tenn., rallied against a taxpayer-funded arena for a proposed team. Many of the protesters carried signs bearing the slogan "No Taxes NBA," at the gathering in the Overton Park Shell.

* * *

TONIGHT: Bucks at Sixers, Game 1, 8:30, TNT.

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