By Craig Kwasniewski
Turns out Manu Ginobili isn't really injured.... just inconsistent. Still, I was expecting this type of offensive explosion in Game 2. But he clearly was the difference maker tonight as the Spurs thoroughly kicked the Lakers ass 103-84. So is it the magical healing of home court? Did he finally get a manicure? Or is it a very clutch shot of cortisone? Or is Manu protected by the media because as I've said before he's very inconsistent.
Turns out the Spurs aren't dead... in fact the defending champs are very much alive. But they were ripe for the picking at the start of the game. In the first 6 minutes the Spurs looked very unsure of themselves but the Lakers failed to take over early. Kobe tried to carry the load early on hoping to inject some energy into his teammates but they didn't bother to show up tonight. And the game was over as soon as Manu got hot halfway through the second quarter.
Turns out Lamar Odom isn't injured either... just VERY VERY inconsistent. Three games into the Western Conference Finals and Lamar has only showed up once. So was Game 2 an aberration? The Spurs are willing to get literally nothing on the offensive side from Robert Horry's rotting corpse because of his superb defensive job on Odom. He's frustrating the versatile forward, keeping him from getting to the hoop for any dunks. And that frustration is affecting his rebounding (he's the Lakers best defensive rebounder) and freethrow shooting (5-12 combined in Games 1 & 3). The Lakers can't beat San Antonio without Odom.
Turns out Derek Fisher is still in Utah. Is Tony Parker's speed getting to D-Fish? Is the long season taking a toll on the veteran guard? Is his leg injury slowing him down? Whatever it is the Lakers can't win if they continue to get single digits COMBINED from Odom and Fisher.
Turns out the Lakers can't come back from every big deficit. Game 1 set a dangerous precedent. Maybe the Lakers felt they could take a half off and come back every time.
Turns out the Pistons aren't the only team to not show up with a close-out opportunity. Outside of Farmar and Bryant there's no excuse for the Lakers lack of effort tonight. As I mentioned, the Spurs opened flat and were ripe for the kill. All the Lakers had to do was bring the same effort as Game 6 against Utah, silence the crowd and this series would end in a sweep. Instead, they didn't have any energy tonight. Kobe tried to force the issue but nobody bought into it. Suddenly Manu Ginobili blows up in the second quarter and the Spurs followed and it was over by halftime.
Turns out the Lakers CAN get blown out. I was wrong to think that these Lakers weren't capable of being blown out. Usually, as in Game 1, Kobe would find a way to inject energy in the team and they'd go down swinging. This loss was thoroughly disappointing because they let the Spurs back into the series.
Turns out the defending champs rose to the occasion. Spurs fans unite, your team finally showed up to the Western Conference Finals. And with such a dominant victory tonight, it tells me that we're headed for a very special Game 7.
Turns out this is a series. Better buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride.