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Lakers win as Spurs collapse

Associated Press

SAN ANTONIO -- Tim Duncan covered his head with his jersey after the buzzer. Next time, he promises that when his team needs a big basket, the ball will be in his hands.

That was all elementary to Kobe Bryant.

Bryant rescued the Lakers again Sunday, rallying his team from a 10-point deficit for an 87-85 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4.

The Lakers won both games in at the Alamodome and lead the best-of-seven series 3-1. Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals is at Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

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Hemmed in late in the game by a collapsing defense, Duncan gave up the ball and looked to his teammates to make something happen. The result? The Spurs went without a field goal the final seven minutes.

Duncan, the NBA's Most Valuable Player, took only two of the Spurs' 18 shots in the last period, and missed them both.

"I tried to be patient, tried to find open people," he said. "I just should have been more selfish."

Bryant took charge in the fourth quarter, capping a 12-point burst with the winning putback with five seconds remaining. Charging down the lane, Bryant rebounded Derek Fisher's drive and flipped it in.

"He has an uncommon will to win," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He has the exact same will to win that Michael (Jordan) had."

Two days earlier, Bryant scored 11 points in the final quarter and the Lakers also erased a late deficit to win.

As good as Bryant's offense was late in the game, the Lakers' defense was outstanding.

After Bruce Bowen's 3-pointer put the Spurs up 82-72 with 6:57 left, San Antonio managed only three free throws by Duncan.

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"We had five or six shots that were either ill-advised or not shot with confidence," Popovich said.

The Spurs ended the game ineptly. Terry Porter fell after receiving an inbounds pass with 3.2 seconds left, then got the ball to Duncan for a desperation 20-footer that wasn't even close.

Duncan led all scorers with 30 points on 9-for-15 shooting. Tony Parker added 15 and David Robinson 12. Duncan and Robinson each had 11 rebounds.

Shaquille O'Neal added 22 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles, which has won a record 11 straight playoff games on the road. Robert Horry contributed 13 points.

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