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"We struggled for half of the season or a little more, but now we are playing better," Ginobili said. "Even though we're in the seventh spot and it's not going to be easy, we know now that nobody's that much better than us. So that's a big thing in your head."
San Antonio opened the second half on an 11-4 run, with Duncan scoring six in a row, for its largest lead to that point, 59-44. Gasol scored 13 in the third, when Bryant went scoreless.
The Spurs took an eight-point lead late in the second quarter, when Ginobili scored six straight before Keith Bogans capped the scoring with a 3-pointer that sent San Antonio into halftime leading 48-40.
The final minute of the half included double technicals on Ron Artest and Ginobili, and a technical on Bryant for arguing with referee Bennett Salvatore. Derek Fisher had to pull an animated Bryant away.
Artest sprinted to the sideline in disbelief at his call, the result of he and Ginobili tangling before an inbounds play. Artest then fouled Ginobili, who hit the free throws and dunked off Jefferson's steal of Bryant.
"Even though you don't like to get a T, it helps sometimes because they're trying to mess with you and get you off your game," Ginobili said. "That means that you're important."
NOTES: The Spurs' bench outscored the Lakers' reserves 20-4. ... Lakers F Luke Walton was scoreless in nearly 8 minutes playing for the first time since Feb. 10 after being out with a pinched nerve in his back. "The back felt good," he said. "My timing was a little off, but that will come." ... The season series ended in a 2-2 tie. ... The Lakers clinched their third consecutive and 21st overall Pacific Division title Saturday night with Phoenix's loss at Milwaukee.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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