Los Angeles crush San Antonio, take 2-0 lead
Sun, May 25, 2008
The Straits Times
Los Angeles - No second-half comebacks for the Lakers this time. None needed.

The series is severely tilted in one direction - as seen by Los Angeles' resounding 101-71 victory over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night at the Staples Centre.

The Lakers ripped apart the Spurs' defence to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is in San Antonio tomorrow.

The game was so one-sided that reporters scrambled to find the worst play-off loss in Spurs' history - a 47-point defeat, also to the Lakers, in 1986.

Lamar Odom was as active as ever, collecting 20 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots in only 32 minutes.

Jordan Farmar broke free from a play-off slump with 14 points. And Kobe Bryant's heroics weren't needed.

Bryant finished with 22 points and five assists.

The Lakers moved to within two victories of their first trip to the National Basketball Association Finals since 2004.

The only thing that can stop their momentum is, well, the Lakers themselves.

'We can't get too high on ourselves,' Odom said after the game, reminding all that the next two games are in San Antonio. '(The Spurs are) a team of champions.'

The game flowed with the Lakers, be it by luck - Bryant had a wishful 19-foot shot fall in - or by skill, as in Odom's one-handed dunk off an alley-oop from Luke Walton.

The score was tied at 37-37 before the Lakers ended the second quarter with a 9-0 run. They then outscored the Spurs in the second half 55-34.

The Lakers' ball movement was stellar, even crackling - reducing one of the league's best defences to a mess.

'You have to be extremely, extremely unselfish against this team,' Bryant said.

The Lakers were extremely, extremely strong on defence, too.

The Spurs shot only 34 per cent, making 30 of 87 attempts. The Lakers also had seven blocked shots.

Manu Ginobili, hampered by a sore left ankle, made only two of eight shots.

The Spurs had considered holding him out of Game 2. He had seven points in 23 minutes.

'We shot horribly, and we didn't play as good defence as two days ago,' Ginobili said. 'So, if you do the maths, there were not many chances of winning.'

He was not the only Spur who struggled. Tim Duncan had 16 rebounds but only 12 points on 6-for-14 shooting.

Tony Parker had 13 points, made only six of 15 shots and had four turnovers.

'I think they had some tired legs,' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. 'We're playing every other day in this situation. Kind of crept up on them, perhaps.'

The Spurs have been here before, trailing New Orleans 0-2 in the previous series before rallying to win.

The Lakers are very cognizant of it, having watched the Spurs' Game 7 victory over the Hornets together.

They are also aware of the Spurs' 6-0 play-off record at home - 3-0 against Phoenix and 3-0 against New Orleans.

Derek Fisher, who had 11 points, cautioned: 'These guys are the defending champions. There isn't any reason for us to think that their time is up and that they'll just step aside for us.'

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