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Sunday, May 9, 2004
TD, TP combine for 18 points in Game 3

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- Tim Duncan and Tony Parker went from dominating duo to also-rans against the Los Angeles Lakers' energized defense.

Duncan scored 10 points and Parker had eight in San Antonio's 105-81 loss Sunday.

The Lakers cut the Spurs' lead to 2-1 in the Western Conference semifinals. Game 4 is Tuesday at Staples Center.

"We can't come out and expect that it's going to be easy," Parker said.

Duncan and Parker combined for 104 points in helping the Spurs to 10-point victories in the first two games.

But with Gary Payton and Kobe Bryant alternately dogging both of them, Duncan was held to 4-of-14 and Parker shot 4-of-12 Sunday. Duncan had six turnovers and Parker committed three.

"They were very aggressive out of the gate," Duncan said. "They had a good defensive scheme and executed it well. They took us all out of our games."

The best Spurs players weren't even starters.

Devin Brown had 16 points and seven rebounds off the bench, and reserve Manu Ginobili added 17 points.

"That's not going to hack it against any team in the playoffs," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "If nobody in your starting group has a good game, you're going to be in big trouble."

San Antonio lost for the first time since March 23 against Minnesota, snapping a 17-game winning streak. The Spurs had won their final 11 regular season games and the first six of the playoffs.

"The game was called differently, the game was played differently, and they were aggressive and we didn't react the right way," Duncan said.

Duncan and Parker's problems occurred right away. Duncan was 1-of-8 in the first half, while Parker shot 2-of-8. Neither of them got untracked as the Spurs' 10-point halftime deficit stretched to 28 in the fourth quarter.

"We had a tough shooting night and we know it's going to happen sometimes," Parker said. "We have to refocus and come back Tuesday and play better."

The Spurs didn't get the ball to the 7-foot Duncan inside, where Lakers center Shaquille O'Neal was especially good. O'Neal had 28 points and 15 rebounds, while Spurs center Rasho Nesterovic was held scoreless.

"The aggressive team wins in the NBA and especially the playoffs, and I thought the Lakers were aggressive from the beginning," Popovich said.

The Spurs shot 34.1 percent and committed 21 turnovers -- two less than their total in the first two games.

Popovich believes Game 4 could be close or another blowout.

"It's all over the map, always has been, always will be," he said. "I just hope we're more aggressive to start the game. If we're not, we'll be in trouble again."