Los Angeles Lakers Must End Their Road Trip the Way it Was Started

If the Los Angeles Lakers are searching for a blueprint for postseason success, a good starting point would be the defensive performance against San Antonio on Wednesday night.

Phil Jackson should bookmark the fourth quarter of that game, and when his team fails to display the same type of aggressiveness and tenacity, he can return to that scene as a point of reference.

The Lakers defeated the Spurs, 92-83, and held Tim Duncan to six points on 2-for-11 shooting, while San Antonio only managed to shoot 37 percent from the field for the entire game.

Manu Ginobili scored 24 points, but in the fourth quarter, he was blanketed by Ron Artest, who had five steals for the Lakers and played the type of suffocating defense which has become his signature.

The most impressive part about the Lakers' performance is the fact they trailed for the majority of the contest, but at the end of the third quarter there was a sense of foreboding in the Spurs' mood.

It was almost like San Antonio had given the Lakers their best shot, only to glance over to the Los Angeles bench and have their stares confronted with confidence and steely resolve.

The Lakers felt like they had the Spurs right where they wanted them, and when play resumed in the fourth quarter, Los Angeles proved it by intensifying their defense to a championship level.

It was probably their best quarter of defense since a blistering home effort against the Utah Jazz earlier in the season and may stand as their best defensive performance on the road all year.

But this is what championship teams do, and with other teams in the West wilting from the pressure of the playoff chase, Los Angeles has an opportunity to create even more distance at the top of the conference.

The Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks have begun to show cracks in their armor at the worst possible time, and any thoughts of catching the Lakers in the s...

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