Spurs Making Lakers Playoff Exit Look Like Foregone Conclusion

Jimmy SpencerNBA Lead WriterApril 25, 2013

The Lakers trail 2-0 in the first-round series to the Spurs.
The Lakers trail 2-0 in the first-round series to the Spurs.Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

For those of you still awake, this Los Angeles Lakers' 2012-13 story is finally almost over.

The San Antonio Spurs are close to ending the Hollywood drama following its 102-91 Game 2 win Wednesday night. They now lead L.A. in the opening-round series 2-0.

There's only small breaths of hope left in the admittedly resilient Purple and Gold lungs.

Gregg Popovich and the Spurs are just too good.

The Lakers lost Kobe Bryant and were forced to change everything. The Spurs, meanwhile, continue to run a system that has been perfected throughout the season (and decade).

...And the Spurs look healthy.

And Dwight Howard can't outplay the 36-year-old Tim Duncan.

And there’s no Bryant to bail them out in the fourth quarter.

Mitch Kupchak, how does that make you feel?

The Lakers have struggled all season, and if anyone was asked midseason how they’d match up against the Spurs in the playoffs, the laughs would have been resounding.

So it should come as no surprise the Lakers have struggled in the first two games of this Round 1 matchup considering that same bad team is even more hobbled and shorthanded.

Meanwhile, San Antonio looks plenty healthy.

Tony Parker appears plenty ready to knock out the Lakers despite missing games in March and April with neck and ankle ailments. The Lakers don't have the ability to slow down Parker, who went for 28 points and seven assists Wednesday night.

Additionally, Manu Ginobili is in routine postseason form. He was again key off the bench, scoring 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting and adding seven assists in just 19 limited minutes.

Truly, though, it hasn’t been an issue of the Lakers defense.

Once Bryant was lost for the season, the Lakers needed to adjust their offense to take advantage of the post talents of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol. To succeed, Los Angeles needs something more than the “pretty good” play it's receiving.

Neither have filled the void of spectacular Kobe left behind.

Offensively, Howard and Gasol had to be even more productive than they were in Game 1's combined effort of 15-of-28 for 36 points. Instead, in Game 2, the pair regressed, shooting 12-of-26 for 29 points.

That’s not enough, especially considering it’s being nearly matched by Duncan and Tiago Splitter, who combined for 24 points on 12-of-23 shooting.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s the fault of Howard and Gasol, or the offense around them that’s not getting them the ball. Either way, the team isn’t getting it done.

There’s little good news for Los Angeles.

The Lakers have played well at home to finish the season, winning their last six games at Staples Center. But only two of those wins came without Bryant, and the home win against the Spurs on April 14 was not against this full-strength Spurs team.

With Nash still injured, a somber way for the former Most Valuable Player to end his first season in Tinseltown, there is nowhere for Los Angeles to turn.

If Gasol and Howard are supposed to be the top scoring options, then who’s No. 3, Steve Blake? That’s not going to work even if he did score 16 points Wednesday.

Blake is now the latest injured Laker.

Credit the resiliency of the Lakers for climbing back into relevance and into the No. 7 spot of the Western Conference as the regular season ended.

But that’s as far as it will go. The coaching and veteran talent of the Spurs won’t allow one last Lakers comeback.