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Well, The _________ Game is Out of the Way...

Western Conference Finals Game 2 at Los Angeles: Lakers 101, Spurs 71

There's not going to be much of Game 2 recap today. After a score like 101-71, there really isn't a whole lot to say.

In a nutshell, the main problem is that the Lakers are bigger, stronger, faster, quicker, younger, healthier, deeper, have better shooters, better coaching, and home court advantage. But besides that, the Spurs could totally come back and win this series.

All they need is for the following players to play better; significantly so in most cases:

Tim Duncan

Manu Ginobili

Tony Parker

Fabricio Oberto

Ime Udoka

Brent Barry

Kurt Thomas

These players on the other hand are playing as well as they can, so they just need to keep up doing what they're doing:

Bruce Bowen

Michael Finley

Robert Horry

Jacque Vaughn

"But Stampler," you're saying. "I'm confused," you're saying. "Finley, Horry, and Vaughn have been horrible. Are you some kind of idiot? Have you not been watching? How can you write that those guys are playing well?"

I didn't write that they've been playing well. I wrote that they're playing as well as they can. They in fact stink, but it's not their fault that they're on the floor. When crappy players are put in a position to fail, it's on the coach. No serious team with championship aspirations plays guys like that in a Conference Final, yet here we are. Team Moneyball, basically, except our stars actually have championships and are clutch performers and stuff. And our coach is the guy who thinks he's smarter than everybody, not the GM. We can't afford to pay for ten decent NBA players. In fact, we're paying below the market rate for our second and third best players, guys who on other teams would probably have max deals. Stephon Marbury makes more money than Manu and Tony combined. That says it all, for both us and the Knicks, doesn't it?

Of course, we can still get it done. We can win these next two home games and make it a best of three going back to L.A. Our guys will shoot better in our building. They'll defend harder. Manu will find a way to make an impact, regardless of his battered physical condition. Tony will play with more nerve and confidence. It can happen.

Here's the thing though - I'm good either way. Honestly. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't hate the Lakers, I truly don't. I hate, in order, the Mavs, the Suns, and the Nuggets. I think I've built a healthy disregard for the Hornets, after seeing Chris Paul and David West up close and personal for seven games. They're punks, and Paul is a sneaky thug, very much like Jason Terry. I dislike the Celtics for the way they instantly turned themselves from bums to contenders, thanks to a couple of shady deals. I think they're arrogant as shit and can't believe that they're acting like they've won the whole thing before they have. I've always despised Garnett and think he's overrated.

I don't hate L.A. though.

Oh, I used to, believe me. But 90% of my hatred for them had to do with that 400 lb. tub of goo that's stealing Robert Sarver's money in Phoenix these days. I was always firmly on the Kobester's side in the Shaq-Kobe feud. All Bryant wanted was for Shaq to work out in the offseason, show up ready to go, and not blatantly tank the regular season. I think it drove Bryant nuts that he had to carry the team for large stretches in the regular season and then give way to Shaq in the playoffs, when he finally felt like playing. Cue the Scottie Pippen comparisons that no doubt drove Kobe insane.

Shaq's gone now. So is the ever-annoying Rick Fox. Fucking Horry (a player I loathed back then) plays for us now. The only guy they got left from their glory days that I can't stand is Derek Fisher.

Can I work up the proper hate for Lamar Odom? Probably. Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar? Absolutely. Pau Gasol? I doubt it. I kinda like him. Always have. Ronny Turiaf works hard and has a lot of spirit. Luke Walton's a great glue guy. The only sulky, bad attitude guy in the mix is Andrew Bynum, and he's not around to hate. Phil Jackson might be the world's biggest egomaniac, but he's still an excellent coach, and not nearly as afraid of change or youngsters as Pop.

I don't hate the Lakers and I can't see myself doing so anytime soon. I respect their coach. I like most of their players. They're not dirty. They were built the right way. They play team basketball but at the same time they've got a star who can take over if he has to. When I see their bench, and then I look at our bench, I feel ill.

Anyway, Game 3 is tonight. Either our guys will make this a series or we will witness the very beginning stages of the game's next great team. As good as the Lakers are right now, they could very well be juggernauts in the coming years if Bynum and Gasol can play together. They're gonna win a title, if not this year than in the near future.

The question for our guys is how long can they hold them off?

P.S. Here's the Friday spot with the Steve Mason show. I got a couple of shots in at Kobe that they loved.