It's usually not good for the San Antonio Spurs when the words "Lakers" and "sweep" appear in the same sentence.
Not this season.
Tim Duncan had 27 points, and Tony Parker scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half as the Spurs beat Los Angeles, 98-89, yesterday to complete a four-game regular season sweep of the defending NBA champions.
The Spurs had last swept a season series against Los Angeles in 1993-94.
"We came out aggressive and really stuck with it," Duncan said. "They really challenged us. . . . We just did a lot of good things as a team."
San Antonio took control by making 10 of 15 shots in the third quarter. The Spurs led by 19 points in the quarter as the Lakers shot 6 for 31. Parker had eight points on 3-for-3 shooting in the period, then added eight free throws in the fourth.
"I'm always on this team about coming out strong in the second half and playing with the kind of energy we have to, especially against San Antonio," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "We were a little lackadaisical and didn't taken advantage of a lot of opportunities."
Shaquille O'Neal, who had 32 points and 12 rebounds, had a basket and a three-point play that closed the Lakers to 71-61 with 10 minutes remaining. But Manu Ginobili countered eight points to help the Spurs maintain a double-digit advantage.
"We made some silly mistakes and that cost us," O'Neal said. "We beat ourselves more than they did."
Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich held back from giving his team full credit for sweeping the Lakers, who needed only nine games to oust San Antonio from the postseason during the past two playoffs.
"We've only beaten them twice -- Shaq has only played in two of the games," Popovich said, remembering that O'Neal had been sidelined by foot surgery. "They are still the best team on the planet until proved different in the playoffs."
* KINGS 109, ROCKETS 108: Chris Webber scored 24 points, Steve Francis missed a long three-pointer at the buzzer, and Sacramento held on at home.
Francis had 38 points and nine assists in a virtuoso performance. Webber made two big shots in the closing minutes, but he missed two free throws with 5.1 seconds left -- nearly allowing the Rockets to steal a win in the NBA's toughest road arena.
"That finished off a really good week for us," Sacramento Coach Rick Adelman said. "We seemed to be in control and 10 points ahead most of the time. We just couldn't break away. They're trying to make the playoffs, and they almost pulled it off."
The Kings won their fourth straight, but they were powerless to stop Francis as Houston steadily cut into Sacramento's lead in the fourth quarter.
* 76ERS 112, RAPTORS 95: Allen Iverson scored 32 points and visiting Philadelphia ended a two-game losing streak.
Iverson, the league's No. 3 scorer, recovered from two subpar games -- he had just five points in Thursday's loss to Detroit and went 9 for 27 from the field in Saturday's loss to Atlanta -- to go 14 for 25 from the field. He added seven assists and five steals.
"I feel a lot better about my game. I've been searching for it," Iverson said. "Hopefully, I found it. I just played well today."
Vince Carter had 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting for the lottery-bound Raptors, who have lost eight of nine.
Iverson had 14 points during the third quarter when Philadelphia outscored Toronto 31-19.
* PISTONS 105, BULLS 82: Richard Hamilton scored 26 points and Ben Wallace pulled down 20 rebounds in Detroit.
The Pistons are 3-0 against the Bulls this season and have won 17 of 19 meetings since Michael Jordan left Chicago. The win increased Detroit's Central Division lead to 31/2 games over idle Indiana.
Chicago was missing Donyell Marshall, its leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, after he injured his ribs in Saturday's win over New York. The Bulls have lost seven straight on the road.
Chauncey Billups added 16 points for the Pistons; Cliff Robinson and Mehmet Okur had 13 each.
* MAGIC 96, HEAT 74: Tracy McGrady made a career-high seven three-pointers and scored 35 points, and host Orlando won its fourth in a row.
McGrady scored 21 in the first quarter and finished 15 of 27 from the field to go with seven rebounds and five assists, helping the Magic to its eighth win in 11 games.
McGrady played only 32 minutes, sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Gordan Giricek and Jacque Vaughn each scored 13 for the Magic.
* CAVALIERS 93, NETS 88: Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored 29 points to help Cleveland overcome an early 13-point deficit at home.
Ilgauskas shot 13 for 21 as Cleveland snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the third time in 19 games -- with two of those victories coming against New Jersey.
Jason Kidd scored 21 points to lead the Nets but committed a key turnover and missed a free throw in the final 16 seconds.