Published on Mar 10, 2012
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Seventeen-and-oh my! Can anybody beat these guys?
The Los Angeles Lakers, motivated by the ejection of head coach Phil Jackson, outscored the San Antonio Spurs 13-5 during the final 6:11 Monday night for an 88-81 victory in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.
The Lakers won their 17th in a row, ninth in the playoffs, in a rough game that put them up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series. They won twice at the Alamodome, where San Antonio had been unbeaten in the playoffs and had lost just eight in the regular season.
"I think the turning point was when Phil got thrown out of the game," Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal said of Jackson getting two technical fouls in a five-minute span of the third quarter. "I pulled the guys in the huddle and told them, 'Let's go, let's just play loose.' They gave us all they had."
The Lakers, down by as many as 14 points in the first half, can complete an unexpected sweep by winning the next two at home. Game 3 is Friday night at the Staples Center.
Their playoff winning streak is the longest since 1989, when the Lakers won 11 in a row before being swept in the Finals by Detroit after Magic Johnson and Byron Scott were injured.
Can the Spurs come back?
"If we slack off and not do what we've been doing, then yes," O'Neal said, "but I don't see us doing that. I see us going home and taking care of business."
Once again, Kobe Bryant led the way, but he got plenty of help from role players to overcome Tim Duncan's career playoff-high 40 points for the Spurs.
Bryant followed his 45-point performance in Game 1 with 28 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:10 to play that put Los Angeles ahead 85-78.
The game was much tougher than the Lakers' 104-90 romp in Game 1.
"It was fun," Bryant said. "We were challenged."
Duncan grabbed 15 rebounds for the Spurs, while Antonio Daniels added 24 points, a career playoff high. Both were perfect from the foul line -- Daniels 12-for-12 and Duncan 9-for-9.
But Duncan's twin tower, David Robinson, struggled though a foul-plagued night trying to guard O'Neal. Robinson, who drew his third and fourth fouls in a one-second span 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."
Duncan was upset about the shots he didn't make.
"Down the stretch, they just outplayed us," he said. "Their big two [Bryant and O'Neal] made shots down the stretch, and I missed a couple. I missed a couple of open looks down the stretch, and that was the difference in the game."
After Duncan scored 25 points in the first half, 17 in the second quarter, the Lakers collapsed on him with double- and triple-teams and limited him to 15 second-half points, most on free throws.
Jackson didn't know why referee Bob Delaney called the second technical.
"The referee asked me to move, and I asked 'Why?' and I was thrown out," Jackson said.
Los Angeles scored the next seven points, tying it on Fisher's 3-pointer from the corner, then took its first lead of the game, 64-63, on a 3-pointer by Horry.
The Spurs outscored Los Angeles 15-2 to start the second quarter.
O'Neal, meanwhile, made two of nine shots in the first half as San Antonio's defense clogged the middle much better than it did in Game 1.
He missed five of his first six shots, drew two early fouls and got a technical from Delaney after tangling with Malik Rose under the Lakers' basket with 6:11 left in the half. Daniels made the free throw, then hit an 8-foot running jumper to cap the outburst that put San Antonio up 37-23 with 5:44 left in the half.