SAN ANTONIO, May 6 (UPI) -- Tim Duncan has 28 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and three blocks Monday night as San Antonio eased past the Los Angeles Lakers, 87-82.
It was Game One of their Western Conference semifinal series, and Duncan had plenty of support.
After being named NBA MVP for the second consecutive season, Duncan lived up to the title, but his performance was nearly undone by Kobe Bryant, who finished third in MVP voting, and scored 13 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter to keep it close.
Bryant's three-point play brought the Lakers within 72-71 with 5:47 remaining, but the Spurs reeled off the next seven points to take a 79-71 lead on a pair of free throws by David Robinson, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal fouled out in the playoffs for the first time with 3:26 remaining. Bryant took over thereafter, scoring eight of the Lakers' final 11 points.
Bryant's three-pointer with 68 seconds left made it 85-82. After Robinson was called for an offensive foul, Bryant stepped out of bounds while attempting a three-pointer from the corner.
Duncan made an errant pass at the other end, but Bryant missed another jumper. Robinson secured the rebound and was fouled before being hit in the groin by Robert Horry, who received a technical foul.
"I didn't try to hit him, I was just trying to get the ball," Horry said. "I didn't mean to hit him after the whistle. I didn't even hear it."
Tony Parker made the technical free throw, and Robinson split two from the line. The Spurs made 14-of-19 free throws in the fourth quarter, and 21-of-35 overall.
The officiating clearly frustrated the three-time defending champions, who attempted just 12 free throws for the game.
"The difference was foul shots," said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson. "They had 35 attempts to our 12. That's ridiculous in a ballgame this hotly contested."
"From our standpoint as players, it's important to play through it," Bryant added. "You can go to the refs and plead your case, but you just have to play through it."
San Antonio held on for just its second victory in the last 10 postseason meetings with Los Angeles.
"Tonight was a good stepping stone for us," said Spurs forward Malik Rose. "We just had a lot of guys step up, and we just have to keep moving forward and build upon the success of this game."
The Spurs have won all five games with the Lakers this season.
Rookie Emanuel Ginobili scored 15 points off the bench and made 3-of-3 three-pointers for San Antonio, whose reserves outscored their Lakers' counterparts, 28-4.
"I really was able to get into a rhythm tonight and felt like the game came to me as time went on," Ginobili said. "I was able to contribute and help my teammates any way that I can."
O'Neal had 24 points and 21 rebounds before fouling out, Horry grabbed 14 rebounds, Derek Fisher 10 points, and reserve Brian Shaw had nine for the Lakers, who had a commanding 57-45 rebounding advantage but committed 19 turnovers leading to 21 points for the Spurs.
The Lakers also lost forward Devean George to a severely sprained left ankle early in the fourth quarter.
Game Two is Tuesday at the SBC Center.