Spurs-Lakers: First Blood, Part II

The NBA Closer is written by Matt McHale, who's starting to get a very bad feeling about these playoffs. A very bad feeling. When he's having nightmares about another Lakers championship, he can be found crafting Kobe Bryant voodoo dolls at Basketbawful. Enjoy!

When you're pushed, killin's as easy as breathin'. They've been pushed around since Shaq was traded away. Now, in these playoffs, the Lakers have become brutal, efficient, and cold-blooded killers. And last night, they gutted the defending champs and stuffed them into a 101-71 body bag. And somewhere Emperor Stern is laughing softly on his dark throne.

The box score from the game reads like something out of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Ass Whoopin'. The Lakers bitchslapped the Spurs in just about every way possible: They outshot 'em (55 percent to 34 percent), outfreethrowed 'em (20-10), outrebounded 'em (44-36) and outbenched 'em (34-26). Kobe Bryant scored 22 points (10-for-17), but it seemed like twice that. Lamar Odom looked more Batman than Robin (20 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocked shots). And Pau Gasol (10 points, 7 boards)...that dude's just crazy.

Meanwhile, San Antonio's big guns ran out of ammo, especially in the second half. Tony Parker "led" the Spurs with 13 points and 4 assists, but shot 6-for-15. Timmy Duncan had a double-double (12 points, 16 rebounds) but shot 6-for-14. And Manu continued to earn the "Shoeless Joe Ginobili" nickname I gave him (7 points, 2-for-8, a couple flops).

Said Ginobili: "I blame myself for these two losses." So do we, Manu. So do we. Now you've got two choices: Live for nothing, or die for something. Your call.

Game 4 3 is on Sunday in San Antonio.