Popovich blames bad decisions

Times Staff Writer

For defending NBA champions, the outcome of Game 1 of the Western Conference finals was very un-defending NBA champion-like.

The Lakers punched. The Spurs recoiled.

The Lakers were the aggressors. The Spurs reeled away.

The Lakers jammed the ball inside. The Spurs drifted outside for jumpers.

The Spurs' 20-point third-quarter lead disappeared because of it.

Very un-champion-like indeed.

"Obviously a difficult loss and we had a great opportunity," Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich said. "We didn't take advantage of it. Hurts like hell."

Bruce Bowen said the collapse would be enough for players and coaches alike to stay up turning all night. Popovich called it a lot of "very poor decisions."

One of those may have been going away from Tim Duncan late in the game. The result was a lid over the basket. In the fourth quarter, the Spurs converted only three of 21 shots.

"It will take some good mental toughness to let that go," Popovich said.

That the defending champions do have -- as well as an early 1-0 deficit in this series.

"We lost on the road to a very good team," Duncan said. "We take a lot of positives out of it. We were up and we feel that we should have won this game and we didn't. So, we come back next game, gear it up again and we go again."


About nine hours before Game 1, Spurs guard Manu Ginobili conceded he was somewhat fatigued.

"It's no secret, of course," Ginobili said. "I was going to be tired even without the overnight in the plane. But it's a new game, new day."

That new day ended in a forgettable evening.

Ginobili finished with only 10 points and made only three of 13 shots.

He missed all three of his fourth-quarter attempts, including a late three-pointer that could have put the Spurs ahead by one point.

Afterward, he said he had some issues, including a sore ankle, "but nothing that bad that can justify the way I played."


Spurs forward Robert Horry should have a pretty nice memory of the last time the Lakers came back from this large of a deficit. Only from the other side.

It was his memorable buzzer-beating three-point shot for the Lakers that erased a 20-point deficit in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference finals against the Sacramento Kings.



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