NBA Playoffs: Lakers-Spurs, Game 5

Basketbawful has broken out the highest quality Wiccan spell components — coffin nails, dead sea salt, glory water, graveyard dirt, and a very phallic ritual candle — to uncover the darkest mysteries of tonight's NBA playoff game.

Thanks for nothing, NBA. The league office has come out and officially stated the totally freaking obvious: Derek Fisher fouled Brent Barry on the final play of Game 4. And it should have been called outright or replay should have been used. But aw shucks, it wasn't! I'm sure that'll make the Spurs players and coaches feel so much better when they get eliminated tonight whenever.

Kobe's free throws. Mamba shot 89 free throws in six second-round games against the Utah Jazz. His four-game total against the Spurs? Six. Which includes the zero he had in Game 4. Uh...wow? Said Kobe: "I don't know about that. That's one of the mysteries of the world."

Bruce Bowen is the Flash! No, really. Phil Jackson, naturally, has his own little theory on the subject of Mamba's missing free throws. "The basis is guys getting their hands on players, and that's what referees judge. Two hands particularly, it's a call, and Bowen is faster than the eye in that regard. He's really quick with his hands, so he gets in and bothers but he can back out before the shots are up usually, and so you have to give him credit. He's obviously an illusionist at some level." Wait a sec, Phil. Does Bruce have superhuman speed or dark wizard powers? It's gotta be one or the other; it can't be both.

Thanks for nothing, Captain Obvious. Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News wants you to know that there's no pro-big market team conspiracy in the NBA. Sure, Buck. And Jesus was just a nice Jewish boy who bled fruit punch.

Thanks for nothing, Benedict Arnold Obvious. Derek Fisher, master of the non-foul, would like to share some shocking news with you. "[The Spurs are] the defending champions, and we're going to have to play another good 48-minute basketball game in order to beat them." Okay. I'm done.

Thanks for nothing, Mr. Foreign Dignitary Obvious. Manu Ginobili is full of the ancient wisdom of Argentina. "Down 3-1, we know it's really hard to come back. But we're going to try." I'd feel a little better about that last part if Manu had tried more than once in the last four games. Speaking of which...

Manu Ginobili. After hours of porn film review and analyzing breast size various important statistics, I have isolated an amazing trend: When Manu Ginobili plays well, the Spurs win. When he sucks, they lose. The bad news for San Antonio: He's sucked thrice in four games. Maybe his underwear's too tight. Has anybody checked that? Well, get on it!

Kobe's at least half-right. Regarding his team's Chuck Norris-ness: "We're a tough bunch. I think we've grown into a tough team mentally. I think we've grown up. Quick learners — we're all just intelligent idiots." Aw, that was a softball pitch. I can't hit that.

Youth versus experience, Part V. It hasn't looked that good for experience so far, has it? But Gregg Popovich is calling shenanigans. "When we win, we're the experienced team. When we lose, we're older than dirt. That's just silly." You're right, Gregg. It is silly. Let's just say your guys are older than dirt and leave it at that, okay?

"Ray, everybody has three mortgages nowadays." Want to go to the Staples Center and see the Lakers play in the Western Conference Finals? Good luck. Hey, max out five or six credit cards and sell one of your children into slavery, and it should be no problemo! I suggest selling the middle child. That's the one who's usually screwed up, right?

Prediction. History repeats itself and the Spurs' bid to repeat ends in failure. Lakers win. By a lot.