Ginobili leads Spurs by Lakers in Game 3

SAN ANTONIO —The San Antonio Spurs opened another big lead over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night. This time, they kept it.

Manu Ginobili broke out of his scoring slump with 30 points off the bench and the Spurs beat the Lakers 103-84 in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.

Tim Duncan had 22 points, 21 rebounds and five assists, and Tony Parker added 20 points and five assists for the Spurs, who remained unbeaten at home this postseason and avoided falling into an 0-3 hole, which no NBA team has ever overcome.

The Lakers lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is Tuesday in San Antonio.

The Spurs squandered a 20-point lead to lose Game 1 in Los Angeles and the Lakers routed them in Game 2.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points and Paul Gasol scored 15. Lamar Odom struggled all night, finishing 2-of-11 from the field for seven points. But he had six of the Lakers’ 13 assists and 11 rebounds.

“They played solid defense, but we missed a lot of easy ones,” Bryant said.

The Lakers also struggled at the free throw line, going just 8-of-17. Bryant went to the line only once.

On Sunday, the Spurs got a lead midway through the second quarter and never looked back, despite a late surge from Bryant.

“I felt good, and then it was easier for me,” Ginobili said.

Up 69-57 entering the fourth, the Spurs opened with a 12-4 run, and Parker’s layup gave them a 20-point lead with a little over 8 minutes to play.

Then Bryant did what Bryant does: almost single-handedly pulled his team out of the hole. He hit four 3-pointers over the course of less than 2 1/2 minutes and his last one brought the Lakers within 88-76 with 5 minutes to play.

But the Lakers would get no closer, not when the Spurs’ title defense would be all but ruined with a Game 3 loss.

Duncan answered with a three-point play to put the Spurs back up by 15 and not long after Brent Barry’s steal that resulted in a three-point play for Ginobili made it 97-78 with 3:26 to go.

“He bounced back the way I thought he would,” Bryant said of Ginobili. “He had a spectacular first half.”

Reserve Jordan Farmar scored 10 points for the Lakers.

In the first half, Parker was penetrating the paint, but Ginobili was the big key for the Spurs. He had 22 points at the break—more than the 17 he scored in Games 1 and 2 combined. And whether or not his injured left ankle was bothering him, he didn’t need it to explode to the basket because he hit 3 after 3.

After Bryant’s driving dunk past Duncan with 4:57 left in the first quarter put the Lakers up 15-8, Ginobili hit back-to-back 3s from the same spot on the wing to get the Spurs within a point.

He didn’t stop in the second quarter.

His 3 4 1/2 minutes in put the Spurs up 33-30, then he got to the rim about 30 seconds later and was fouled. His free throw made it 36-32.

“He is such a competitor,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He puts so much on his shoulders, he fights through a lot of things.”

The Lakers struggled in the second quarter—turning the ball over early in the period on a shot-clock violation, missing free throws and shooting 7-of-17 from the field—and the Spurs pulled away.

Ginobili hit his fifth 3 of the night as the shot clock expired with less than a minute left in the first half. The Spurs outscored the Lakers 28-15 in the second quarter for a 49-39 lead at the break.

Odom was 1-of-7 from the field in the first half and guard Derek Fisher was scoreless.

Odom didn’t fare any better in the third, and Gasol and Bryant combined for just 10 points as Spurs’ defender Bruce Bowen continued to hound this year’s league MVP.

Ginobili cooled in the third quarter—when the Spurs went up by as many as 13—just as Duncan got hot. Duncan’s two jump shots with less than two minutes to play, plus Ginobili’s drive that showed he can still get to the rim, gave the Spurs a 12-point lead heading into the fourth.


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