Lakers blown out for second straight night

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- It's no secret that stopping Shaquille O'Neal

is the best way to beat the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kobe Bryant had 20 points, but Terry Porter and the Spurs were able to neutralize L.A.'s other offensive weapon.
Kobe Bryant had 20 points, but Terry Porter and the Spurs were able to neutralize L.A.'s other offensive weapon.

The Spurs did exactly that, holding O'Neal to just a pair of

field goals, and defeated the Lakers with ease Wednesday night,


O'Neal finished with 17 points, 13 of them coming from the foul


"We played a good, aggressive game on defense," Spurs coach

Gregg Popovich said. "It allowed us to get into situations to push

the basketball. We moved it well."

The Spurs led by as many as 34 points in the second half while

winning their 10th straight. It was their first victory over Los

Angeles in three tries this season.

The Lakers had beaten the Spurs six consecutive times, including

a four-game sweep in last year's Western Conference finals. O'Neal

averaged 27 points in that series, and he scored 25 in his only

game against the Spurs this season.

O'Neal traced Wednesday's loss back to a night earlier, when Los

Angeles was pummelled by the Mavericks in Dallas, 114-98.

"Last night we got beat straight-out and tonight we came out

flat," he said. "They hit some shots early that put us back on

our heels."

A 22-point lead at the half didn't tempt San Antonio to throttle

back and possibly let the Lakers back into the game.

"We came out real focused in the second half," said Tim

Duncan, who led the Spurs with 25 points. "The first five to seven

minutes of the half is when teams usually make their run. We were

able to sustain our energy tonight."

Reserve Malik Rose added 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting, while

David Robinson had 14 and Tony Parker 12.

Koby Bryant led the Lakers with 20 points. Brian Shaw scored a

season-high 16 and Stanislav Medvedenko had 11.

Bryant was shadowed on the floor by Spurs' defensive specialist

Bruce Bowen.

"He did a good job of taking us out of our rhythm, which is for

me to initiate the offense," Bryant said.

O'Neal, who led all rebounders with 10, made both of his field

goals in the first half. He didn't take a single shot from the

floor in the second half. The 7-foot-1 center is averaging 27.5


What was supposed to be a battle between two of the NBA's best

teams turned into a rout almost from the get-go.

San Antonio started to pull away midway through the first

period. Duncan connected on three straight jumpers to key a 15-6

run that put the Spurs up by 11 late in the quarter.

The Lakers made only three of 15 shots in the second, and the

Spurs built their advantage as high as 23.

Bryant went cold after 5-for-6 shooting in the opening period,

and O'Neal managed to make only one field goal in six attempts.

Rose scored 10 points in the second quarter for San Antonio,

which shot 59 percent to take a 62-40 lead at the break. Duncan

finished the half with 19 points.

Game notes
The game was so lopsided in the second half that Turner

Sports switched to coverage of the Nuggets-Wizards game. ... The

Lakers are 7-9 in the second of back-to-back games. ... The Spurs

currently have the longest winning streak in the NBA and are

undefeated in March. ... Danny Ferry, who scored a season-high 18

points against Boston on Saturday, made his first start of the

season for San Antonio. ... O'Neal didn't score his first basket

until 4:45 remained in the first quarter. His only other one came

with 4:40 left in the half. ... The teams meet for the final time

during the regular season on March 31 in Los Angeles.