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Old 06-01-2008, 06:21 PM   #1
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Angry Spurs couldn't overcome Game 1 loss to Lakers

Web Posted: 05/31/2008 12:28 AM CDT

By Mike Monroe

Monroe The Spurs' playoff run began with a game they had no business winning, a double-overtime victory that sucked the emotion and energy out of a Suns team trying to get past its playoff nemesis.

It ended because the Spurs needed the same sort of emotional lift in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals that the Suns had needed.

When they blew every bit of a 20-point lead against the Lakers at the Staples Center 10 days ago, the Spurs had to know their best chance to make another trip to the NBA Finals had evaporated.

Brent Barry recalled the emotional swings from the dramatic start of the postseason to the opener of the Western Conference finals.

“Phoenix thought they had that game won,” he said, “and we were able to steal it away. I don't know how much thunder that took away from them, but we were in the same boat in this series. The Lakers came back and took the game away from us. From the outside looking in, that flipped the script on us from what happened in the first round.”

If the 11-hour Champion Air travel ordeal that preceded Game 1 cost the Spurs the momentum and energy required to stave off the Lakers' comeback ... well, how long will it be before conspiracy nuts try to convince us David Stern sent a mechanic to New Orleans to sabotage the Spurs' plane?

For the fourth time, the Spurs failed to defend their title, which means nothing, except that they won four championships over a span of nine years when no other team won more than three.

Gregg Popovich chose last summer to give the core players who won the 2007 title — Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley, Robert Horry, Brent Barry and Jacque Vaughn — an opportunity to defend it. It was a laudable concept, and Popovich has no regrets. He said he was proud of the work they did. Getting to the Western Conference finals and losing to a Lakers team he said was better doesn't mean wholesale changes are needed, he asserted.

There will be some changes, of course, and there is worry about Ginobili, who is soon to attempt defense of Argentina's Olympic title, when he will reunite with Luis Scola and wonder how big a difference his friend might have made for the Spurs this season.

The best news for the Spurs: Next season's playoff run will occur in an odd-numbered year.

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