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Ginobili comes on strong in the second half

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- If Tim Duncan keeps it up, he may be able to
retire his reputation as a lousy free-throw shooter.

Duncan, quiet offensively through three quarters Tuesday night,
made three free throws in the final 15 seconds to help the San
Antonio Spurs hold on for a 90-84 victory over the Los Angeles
Lakers.

The win was the Spurs' sixth straight over the Lakers, who
played their first game in San Antonio under coach Phil Jackson
since a victory over the Spurs in Game 5 of the 2004 Western
Conference semifinals on a last-second basket by Derek Fisher.

Kobe Bryant, averaging better than 40 points in his last five
games, struggled to get open shots while being defended by Bruce
Bowen. Bryant finished with 25 points, but he made only nine of his
33 attempts.

"Kobe is the ultimate competitor, so any time we can hold him
in check, we're happy," Bowen said.

Bowen was more accurate than Bryant, scoring 11 points and going
5-for-7.

"Bruce is always awesome, it doesn't matter who (he's
defending), Kobe or anybody else in the league," Duncan said.
"He's going to make them work for every point that they get. ...
He was in (Bryant's) face every shot he took."

San Antonio led by as many as 17 points in the first quarter,
but what looked like a runaway turned into a contest when the Spurs
slumped offensively in the second, shooting only 6-for-20 as a
team.

"We got them mired into our style of play," Jackson said.
"They were playing at a level above us and we got them to come
down to our level. ... We just couldn't seem to finish it."

Sasha Vujacic was fouled by Tony Parker while making a
3-pointer, and he hit the free throw to trim the Spurs' lead to
83-79 with less than three minutes left.

Manu Ginobili (22 points) and Michael Finley each made a pair of
free throws for San Antonio, but a 3-pointer by Lamar Odom narrowed
the difference to 87-82 in the game's final minute.

After Ginobili was fouled by Vujacic and missed both foul shots,
Odom put back an errant 3-pointer by Bryant to make it 87-84. The
Lakers pressed on the inbounds play and fouled Duncan, who made
both to give the Spurs a five-point lead with 15 seconds remaining.

Bryant, crowded by Bowen, missed another long 3, and Duncan was
fouled again and he made one of the foul shots with 2.5 seconds
left.

Duncan finished with 16 points, half in the fourth quarter,
while Finley had 12 and Tony Parker 10. Duncan made four of his
seven free throws. He is shooting 78.2 percent at the line so far
this season, 11 percentage points better than last year.

Odom scored a season-high 27 and had 16 rebounds for the Lakers.
Vujacic and Smush Parker each had 10 points.

"Statistically, I suppose this was my best game if you want to
look at it that way, but I think I could have made a few more
plays," said Odom, who missed a short follow on another miss by
Bryant with 3.8 seconds left. "If we are going to win games, it's
important for me to finish strong at the basket."

The Lakers' only lead of the game came in the opening seconds on
a jump hook by Chris Mihm.

San Antonio made eight of its first nine shots, all in the
paint, to jump out to an 18-8 lead midway through the first.

The last of those baskets came when Ginobili blocked a drive by
Bryant from behind, and the Spurs' guard raced to the other end for
a transition layup.

The Spurs built their lead to 27-10 on a long jumper by Bowen,
and then they missed their final six shots of the first period.

In the second, Los Angeles pulled within five by scoring the
final seven points of the half. Smush Parker hit a pair free throws
before a 3-point play by Bryant and a layup by Odom made it 43-38.

Game notes
The Lakers, who shot 35 percent as a team, lost their
fourth straight road game. ... Los Angeles played its fourth
straight game without Kwame Brown (right hamstring strain) and
third straight without Devean George (sore left foot).