SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Bruce Bowen called it the game of his career,
and given his performance and what was at stake, it's easy to see
Bowen, known mostly for his defensive skills, made seven
3-pointers in eight attempts and harassed Kobe Bryant into a subpar
outing as San Antonio trounced the three-time defending champion
Los Angeles Lakers 114-95 Wednesday night.
The win gave the Spurs a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-seven
series, which resumes Friday night at the Staples Center.
"My main focus was defense tonight,'' said Bowen, who led his
team with a career playoff-high 27 points on 10-for-12 shooting.
"Kobe, being who he is, was going to come out aggressive tonight
and try to take over the game.''
The game became lopsided early and stayed that way, with Bryant
and Shaquille O'Neal watching most of the fourth quarter from the
bench. They each finished with 27 points, with Bryant shooting
9-for-24 from the field.
O'Neal had four fouls, three of them offensive, which prompted
Lakers coach Phil Jackson to once again criticize the referees.
"What he's doing he's done his whole career,'' Jackson said of
O'Neal's physical play on offense. "They're taking away his
But Jackson added that it's up to his 350-pound center to adapt.
"He has to adjust his game if he wants to stay on the floor.''
The Lakers, winners of 13 straight playoff series since being
swept by the Spurs in 1999, have never found themselves down 2-0
during that span.
No team would be happier than the Spurs to be the ones to knock
the Lakers out of the postseason. Los Angeles has defeated San
Antonio in the playoffs the past two seasons, sweeping them in 2001
and defeating them 4-1 a year ago.
"We're in a dangerous spot,'' O'Neal acknowledged, but added,
"There's no time for panic. ... We control our own destiny.''
San Antonio built a 13-point lead in the first period and kept
extending it. The Spurs led by 17 at the half, went ahead by 33 in
the third quarter and led by 27 entering the fourth.
O'Neal had an easier time on offense that he did in Game 1,
making 10 of his 14 shots for 27 points. But Los Angeles -- playing
without injured small forwards Rick Fox and Devean George -- got
little offense from anyone else other than Bryant.
The Spurs shot better than 60 percent for most of the game and
often turned misplays into points.
Malik Rose missed a dunk in the first quarter, but Ginobili
caught the carom and turned it into a layup.
Tony Parker fell down trying to fight through a pair of
defenders, but he found Ginobili for another basket while sitting
on the floor.
Ginobili tossed up a short baseline jumper in the second quarter
that bounced twice on top of the backboard before dropping through
"We did a great job tonight of penetrating and finding seams,''
said San Antonio's David Robinson. "Everyone really got into the
continuity of the game.''
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich didn't have much to say about his
team's standout night on offense.
"We sustained the defense well,'' he said. "It's how we have
to play to have an opportunity to win.''
Three San Antonio players reached double digits in points in the
first half, and none of them were Duncan.
Bowen swished his second 3-pointer barely two minutes into the
game, and Ginobili scored 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting over a
six-minute stretch as the Spurs opened a 31-18 lead by the end of
the first period.
O'Neal scored 15 points in the second quarter, but that didn't
stop San Antonio's lead from getting bigger.
Bowen hit three more 3-pointers in four attempts to finish the
half with 17 points, and Parker made three baskets on drives late
in the period, including a layup with 4.8 seconds remaining to
extend the Spurs' advantage to 60-43.
Bryant was 3-for-8 in the second half after shooting
10-for-19 in the second half of Monday's opening game. ... Fox, who
tore a tendon in his left foot in Game 4 of the Minnesota series,
will have surgery Monday in New York. ... A Spurs fan unfurled a
poster of a bikini-clad woman under the Lakers basket in the second
quarter in a bid to distract O'Neal while he shot a free throw. The
fan was quickly hustled away by security. O'Neal missed the shot,
but made his second attempt. ... The game was broadcast live in
Ginobili's native Argentina through a special arrangement with
ESPN. Games 3 and 4 will also be shown there.