SAN ANTONIO -- With his team down nine points at halftime, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich went with an intellectual, rather than emotional, appeal on Wednesday night.
"'You have to participate in your recovery,"' recounted guard Brent Barry. "I think that stuck with us. When things aren't going well, and you're not playing well, you can't sulk."
Something in Popovich's address must have clicked for the Spurs, because their second half against the Los Angeles Lakers looked a lot better than their first in a 103-91 win.
Tim Duncan had 28 points and 17 rebounds, and Ime Udoka scored a season-high 18 points in the Spurs' second straight victory.
"Pop didn't say much at halftime. He didn't want to come in here screaming and yelling, but he did mention getting the ball into people's hands," Udoka said.
The Lakers still beat the Spurs off the glass (48-35) and in the paint (44-30), but they had a costly 22 turnovers -- Bryant had nine of those -- to give up 27 points.
"I'm not going to fault Kobe at all. He had the turnovers; they were credited to him. But it was other things that went on there," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
The Spurs broke open the game in the third quarter, looking like a different team after a less-than-stellar first half.
They started with a 14-0 run that included six points from Duncan -- highlighted by a seamless put-back dunk after Manu Ginobili's miss -- to grab a 59-54 lead with 5:39 left. Tied at 61 with 4:18 to play, San Antonio closed the quarter -- and took the lead for good -- by outscoring the Lakers 15-5.
The Spurs scored nine of those points in a crowd-pleasing burst over the final 38 seconds of the period. Udoka, in his first season with the Spurs, hit two baskets, then sank a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left.
Then Barry took over, hitting consecutive 3s in the last seven seconds of the period to give the Spurs a 76-66 lead heading into the fourth.
"They knock down two big 3s that gave them a cushion that they were able to play from the rest of the game," Bryant said. "Tonight is a good lesson for us in terms of how quickly momentum can change. ... We did OK outside of those last minutes in the third quarter when they got a cushion. I thought we played hard."
Jackson said the burst "really took the wind out of our sails."
The Lakers got within six points midway through the final quarter, but the Spurs, moving the ball until they could find an opening, pushed their lead to 97-84 with 3:47 left off of Udoka's three-point play and Ginobili's 3 from the top of the arc.
The Lakers never threatened after that.
"It was kind of a tale of two halves," Udoka said. "And I think we played great in the second half."
Odom also grabbed a dozen rebounds for the Lakers.
"Lots of guys played well," Duncan said. "We even shuffled the lineup a little bit ... guys in and out of the lineup here and there."
Before their second-half demise, the Lakers held a 54-45 lead at halftime. The Spurs, looking disorganized, had 17 rebounds -- including 10 from Duncan -- in the first half to the Lakers' 27. Los Angeles outscored San Antonio 32-8 in the paint.
"We just didn't play the way we played in the first half. We didn't move the ball. We didn't challenge them," Odom said. "They were pressuring us and we backed down."
The Lakers took their biggest lead of the first half off a 14-4 run that put them up 46-33 with 5:13 to play in the half.
- The Spurs came into Wednesday's matchup a half-game behind the Lakers in the standings.
- The Spurs and Lakers play again on April 13 in Los Angeles. The Spurs now have a 2-1 advantage in the teams' season series.
- Udoka played four games for the Lakers in the 2003-04 season.
- The Spurs have one more home game, on Saturday, before they go on their annual "rodeo road trip," which this year means nine straight away games.