|Time may have run out for Spurs|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 29 May 2008 19:27|
The group of 30-something Spurs could not keep up with the in-their-20s Los Angeles Lakers.
After another fast start at Staples Center, San Antonio seemed to tire, again blowing a substantial lead and falling 100-92 on Thursday night as the Lakers won Game 5 to advance to the NBA Finals.
San Antonio took a 17-point lead in the second quarter, but the Lakers caught up in the third and put the game away late in the fourth.
In the Western Conference finals opener, San Antonio was up by 20 in the third quarter on the Lakers' court before the Spurs began to struggle and Los Angeles stormed back to win 89-85.
The series could mark the end of an era for the defending champion Spurs and their impressive run of titles, which includes three in the past five years, and four in the last nine.
Earlier in the series against the Lakers, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich had said age was really no factor, that it was silly to think that when the Spurs won, it was because of their experience and when they lost, it was because they were older than dirt.
Following their loss to the Lakers, he still wasn't interested in talking about his team's age. He answered a question about there being a lot of good, young teams in the Western Conference, by saying simply, ``Right.''
Asked if he believes the conference is in transition and if he feels the Spurs must make changes, he said, ``So when you lose, you've got to make the changes, right? If we wouldn't (lose), we wouldn't have to do a thing.
``No, I think that's too superficial analysis of any team at the end of the season. Every team makes some kind of changes. We've made some changes every year, whether we've won or lost.''
Tony Parker, at 26 the lone member of the Spurs' regular rotation under 30, and 32-year-old Tim Duncan did their part in Game 5, with Parker scoring 23 points and Duncan getting 19 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists.
But down the stretch, the Lakers again outplayed them and teammates Bruce Bowen and Brent Barry, each 36; Michael Finely, 35; and Manu Ginobili, 30.
Popovich didn't use Robert Horry, who is almost 38, going instead with Kurt Thomas, who is 35. Thomas had 11 points in his 20:38 on the court.
Kobe Bryant, 29 and the Lakers' oldest regular except for 33-year-old backcourtmate Derek Fisher, led Los Angeles with 39 points. Pau Gasol, 27, had 19 rebounds and 12 points, while Lamar Odom, 28, chipped in with 13 points and eight rebounds.
Although they've been the league's best team in recent years, the Spurs still haven't been able to repeat as champions.
Duncan, however, doesn't believe it will take much for them to get back in the thick of things next season.
``We haven't repeated for whatever reason,'' he said. ``We've just got to gear it up again to go to next year. Obviously, we have to add some pieces to our team and a couple of tweaks here and there.''
Parker said, ``Obviously, everybody is disappointed. Everybody thought we were in a good place to win (the game) and have another opportunity to play in San Antonio and it just didn't happen and that's basketball. Now we just focus for next year.''