Spurs Clinch Playoff Berth in 100-81 Win Over Lakers


April 4, 2010

LOS ANGELES — The San Antonio
Spurs want to do everything they can to avoid facing the Lakers in the
first round of the playoffs. They took a step forward by beating the
defending NBA champions on their home court.

Manu Ginobili scored 32 points, Tim
added 24 and the Spurs clinched their 13th consecutive playoff
berth with a 100-81 win Sunday. They moved into the seventh spot in the
West, a half-game ahead of idle Portland.

"They're playoff-tested, so we want to
stay away from them as long as possible," Tim Duncan said of the

The Lakers got a season-high 32 points
from Pau Gasol and 22 from Kobe Bryant, but failed to clinch the No. 1
seed in the West and heard boos from their fans.

As a result, Cleveland earned
home-court advantage through the NBA finals despite losing 117-113 at
Boston earlier in the day.

"They controlled the tempo," Bryant
said. "We didn't make shots. There were stretches with opportunities to
get back in the ballgame and we just couldn't put the ball in the hole."

Richard Jefferson added 14 points and
Duncan had 11 rebounds for the Spurs, who won their third straight and
15th of 20. They've notched recent wins over four of the NBA's top
teams: Cleveland, Boston, Orlando and now the Lakers.

"It was an unbelievable victory,"
Ginobili said. "Two months ago, it wasn't even in our wildest dreams to
come here and win a game by 18 against the Lakers. But we're doing
better now and we're playing hard. Our defense has really stepped up,
and the difference was that we made the shots we had to make."

Already without Tony Parker because of
a broken ring finger, the Spurs lost starting guard George Hill to a
sprained right ankle in the second quarter. He didn't return after
scoring six points.

"I'm a little worried about
everything that's coming up now without George," said Spurs coach Gregg
, referring to road games against Denver, Phoenix and Dallas.
"It's going to be difficult to sustain that and have Manu play the point
in all these games coming up. We'll have to figure something out."

Lamar Odom had 13 rebounds for Los
Angeles, which had its seven-game home winning streak ended two days
after beating Utah.

Ginobili continued the offensive tear
he's been on since the All-Star break with his 15th game of 20 or more
points. After scoring a point in the third quarter, when the Spurs led
by 15, he had 17 in the fourth.

Ginobili was especially lethal after
the Lakers closed to 71-69 on Gasol's putback dunk of Bryant's missed
jumper. He answered with a 3-pointer and then made two free throws en
route to scoring another seven points and triggering a game-ending 29-12

"We struggled for half of the season
or a little more, but now we are playing better," Ginobili said. "Even
though we're in the seventh spot and it's not going to be easy, we know
now that nobody's that much better than us. So that's a big thing in
your head."

San Antonio opened the second half on
an 11-4 run, with Duncan scoring six in a row, for its largest lead to
that point, 59-44. Gasol scored 13 in the third, when Bryant went

The Spurs took an eight-point lead
late in the second quarter, when Ginobili scored six straight before
Keith Bogans capped the scoring with a 3-pointer that sent San Antonio
into halftime leading 48-40.

The final minute of the half included
double technicals on Ron Artest and Ginobili, and a technical on Bryant
for arguing with referee Bennett Salvatore. Derek Fisher had to pull an
animated Bryant away.

Artest sprinted to the sideline in
disbelief at his call, the result of he and Ginobili tangling before an
inbounds play. Artest then fouled Ginobili, who hit the free throws and
dunked off Jefferson's steal of Bryant.

"Even though you don't like to get a
T, it helps sometimes because they're trying to mess with you and get
you off your game," Ginobili said. "That means that you're important."

The Spurs' bench outscored the
Lakers' reserves 20-4. … Lakers F Luke Walton was scoreless in nearly
8 minutes playing for the first time since Feb. 10 after being out with
a pinched nerve in his back. "The back felt good," he said. "My timing
was a little off, but that will come." … The season series ended in a
2-2 tie. … The Lakers clinched their third consecutive and 21st
overall Pacific Division title Saturday night with Phoenix's loss at

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