SAN ANTONIO, May 13 (UPI) -- Robert Horry missed a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer Tuesday night, allowing San Antonio to edge the Los Angeles Lakers, 96-94.
With the Game Five victory, the Spurs took a three games to two advantage in their Western Conference semifinal series.
It was a heartbreaking ending for the three-time NBA world champions, who fell behind by a many as 25 point before staging a huge rally in the fourth quarter which fell just short.
"It ruined a great comeback," said Los Angeles Coach Phil Jackson.
"I am supposed to be known for that kind of shot," Horry said. "I thought it was on the money. I wanted the ball. I did everything right. I got my feet set, it just did not fall. In a situation like that, I never doubt myself."
"It looked good from where I was standing," Bryant said. "He had perfect arc on the ball, good rotation. It looked like it was going down and then it came back up."
The loss put the Lakers on the brink of elimination, but they have been there before. In last year's conference finals against Sacramento, they lost Game Five on the road before winning Game Six at home and Game Seven on the road.
Tuesday night, the Lakers looked awful for the better part of three quarters.
They trailed, 78-53, late in the third period and by 16 points in the fourth quarter before beginning a comeback that was helped along by a serious case of jitters by the top-seeded Spurs.
San Antonio still seemed safe when David Robinson tipped home a lob pass for a 95-88 lead with 1:38 remaining, but Kobe Bryant drilled a three-pointer, Shaquille O'Neal had a three-point play, and Stephen Jackson split a pair of free throws with 15 seconds to go, leaving the Spurs with a two-point lead.
From the left corner, Bryant rose for what looked to be a shot, but passed to an open Horry, who has made a career of draining clutch three-pointers. He holds the NBA playoff record three-pointers in a game without a miss, and saved the Lakers' season last year with a buzzer-beating trey in Game Four against Sacramento, one of the great shots in postseason history.
That was then, and this is now, and the present has not been kind to Horry.
With Tony Parker fruitlessly flying at him, his shot from the left wing rattled inside the rim but popped out into the hands of Robinson, who passed to Parker to extinguish the clock, and allowing the Spurs a huge exhale.
The miss dropped Horry to 2-of-35 from the arc in the postseason, including 0-of-15 in this series.
"If we ever figure out how to stop someone in the fourth quarter or score in the fourth quarter, we'll be dangerous," said a relieved San Antonio Coach Greg Popovich.
Tony Parker scored 21 points, and Jackson and Bruce Bowen added 12 apiece for the Spurs, who shot 48 percent (38-of-79) from the field.
"(Parker) did a great job of getting us that lead early and putting us in the position to jump out of the gates," said San Antonio center David Robinson.
The Lakers, who trailed, 56-38, at halftime, shot 47 percent from the floor. Bryant scored a game-high 36 oints, and O'Neal added 20 and 12 rebunds.
Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 27 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists.
Game Six is Thursday at Los Angeles.