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San Antonio 114, LA Lakers 95

SAN ANTONIO, May 7 (UPI) -- Bruce Bowen scored a career-high 27 points Wednesday night as San Antonio crushed the Los Angeles Lakers, 114-95.

With the win, that gave the Spurs a two games to none lead of their Western Conference semifinal series, Bowen, whose chief job was to contain Kobe Bryant, made a team playoff-record seven three-pointers.

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A defensive specialist, Bowen's primary responsibility in this series is to guard Bryant, who is one of the NBA's top offensive players. He also is expected to hit a shot occasionally.

Bowen did a lot more than that as the Spurs made a major statement in Game Two, never trailing and leading by as many as 33 points.

Taking advantage of good looks at the basket, Bowen went 10-of-12 from the field, and made seven of eight three-pointers. He sank five three-pointers in the first half, helping the Spurs open a 60-43 lead. San Antonio extended the advantage to 94-67 after three quarters, rendering the final 12 minutes meaningless.

"It was a career high, it's the playoffs, so it's amplified," said Bowen, whose previous career best was 21 points. "Everyone is watching because we are the only game going on. It's the best game I've had as an NBA player."

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"Bruce did a phenomenal job of making plays and shooting the ball from the outside," said Spurs center David Robinson, who managed just four points. "He really helped get us going and he just never cooled off. What a terrific performance, and you cannot say enough about the effort he gave tonight."

Bowen was averaging just 5.6 points in his first seven playoff games. His previous postseason high had been 13 points in last season's conference semifinals against the Lakers.

Even though he averaged just 7.1 points per game during the regular season, Bowen led the league in three-point shooting at 44 percent.

"He wants to shoot the basketball," said San Antonio Coach Gregg Popovich. "I don't know where he finished during the regular season. I was sort of surprised he couldn't buy one in the Phoenix series. It was good to see him get it back."

Rookie Manu Ginoboli, a key factor in Game One for San Antonio, had another big game. The native of Argentina had 10 points in the first quarter and finished with 17.

With the unexpected offensive firepower from Bowen and Ginoboli, NBA MVP Tim Duncan did not have to do much. Duncan netted 13 points to go with 12 rebounds and seven assists, and sat out the entire fourth quarter.

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Things were so bad after three quarters for the Lakers that Bryant and superstar center Shaquille O'Neal watched the final 12 minutes from the bench. Both scored 27 points.

"Give the Spurs credit, they did what they had to do on their home court," O'Neal said. "Going down 0-2, we are in a dangerous spot, but this team can bounce back, and we have to take care of business in Los Angeles."

The Spurs, seeking revenge after being eliminated by the Lakers in the playoffs each of the previous two seasons, look to keep the momemtum going when the series shifts to Los Angeles on Friday night.

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