|Spurs say they've put Game 1 loss behind them|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 22 May 2008 16:44|
That was the San Antonio Spurs' attitude Thursday in the wake of their blown opportunity in the opener of the Western Conference finals.
``They're up 1-0. The important thing for us is to not let the game linger,'' San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said at the team's hotel in suburban Santa Monica some 14 1/2 hours after the Los Angeles Lakers rallied from a 20-point deficit for an 89-85 triumph over the Spurs.
Game 2 will be played Friday night at Staples Center, where the Lakers haven't lost since March 28. The best-of-seven series then shifts to San Antonio for the third and fourth games.
``It's huge, obviously,'' San Antonio points guard Tony Parker said. ``We don't want to go down 0-2 because it's very difficult to come back. But we did come back.''
Entering the conference finals, only 14 of the 222 teams to fall behind 2-0 in best-of-seven NBA playoff series have won, including the Spurs in their second-round matchup with New Orleans.
``We're down one game, that's all,'' said Tim Duncan, who had 30 points, 18 rebounds and four blocked shots in a losing cause. ``Our goal is to get to four (wins). A lot of credit goes to them. Obviously, they played excellent. They came back at us. Kobe (Bryant) took it over.''
The Spurs shot 3-for-21 and committed five turnovers while being outscored 24-13 in the fourth quarter. The Lakers outscored the defending NBA champions 44-20 to finish the game. Bryant had 23 of those points, including 14 in the final period, when he outscored San Antonio by himself.
``We're very pleased overall with what we did defensively,'' Popovich said. ``Our problem was we have to keep scoring, and we didn't last night.''
Popovich bristled when the advancing age of the Spurs was brought up as a possible connection to the loss.
``When we win, we're the experienced team. When we lose, we're older than dirt,'' he said. ``That's just silly. Sometimes people don't make shots. We can do some things better.''
Duncan scored eight of his team's 13 fourth-quarter points. Bruce Bowen made a 3-pointer and Manu Ginobili added two free throws while Parker went scoreless after scoring 18 in the first three periods.
``Poor decision-making,'' Duncan said. ``We turned the ball over, got shots late in the clock, things we can clean up.''
While the Lakers expressed satisfaction with the comeback victory, several said they didn't believe it will have an impact on the rest of the series, either.
``They'll make adjustments, they know what to do. They have a lot of weapons,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. ``They're here to win one.''
Bryant said much the same thing.
``They've been through so many battles,'' he said. ``They're going to keep coming. I don't expect Game 1 lingering into Game 2. They'll be ready to go.''
Asked if the Lakers' defense was responsible for San Antonio's horrid fourth-quarter performance, Bryant replied: ``I don't think any defense is that good. I think it was a combination of them not shooting the ball well, not making shots they usually make, and us applying pressure.''
One player expecially effective at applying pressure was Sasha Vujacic, who played a career playoff high 31 1/2 minutes mainly because of his defensive effectiveness against Ginobili, who shot 3-for-13 while scoring 13 points.
``He was good,'' Ginobili said. ``He was on me, he was playing physical. I give him credit. I was not smart enough attacking the seams.''
Ginobili took responsibility for his below-par performance.
``I wasn't ready for that game,'' he said. ``Game 7 (Monday night at New Orleans) was big emotionally. I know I wasn't as aggressive or as smart as I should be.''
Ginobili also acknowledged his gimpy left ankle hampered his game.
``It's been limiting me a little bit,'' he said. ``It's not an excuse. I could have played a lot better.''
Derek Fisher, held to four points in Game 1, said he expects the Spurs to play better Friday night, which means the Lakers will have to do the same to hold serve.
``Hopefully tomorrow we'll start the game better and be even hungrier to get a win,'' Fisher said. ``We understand we were fortunate.''
Fortunate, perhaps. But Fisher said the way the win came about could have an impact on his team.
``In my experience, those are the kind of wins, at least for the men in the room, that put a little hair on your chest,'' he said. ``That's not easy to do. To me, that means there aren't any excuses for losing a game.
``We just need to continue to focus on ourselves and do whatever we do best. Hopefully last night's win proves to ourselves that we can be the best, that we can win championships. Our turn is now.''