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Lakers Can Win

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Something funny happened after game four of the Western Conference Finals. After the Lakers escaped San Antonio for the three games to one series lead, for the very first time I truly believed the Lakers could actually win the NBA Championship.

Despite their marvelous play throughout the regular season and postseason, the specter of Laker teams from the last three years hung over in my mind. At some point the Lakers would fold and collapse. Even though they won 40 games before they lost 20, I expected them to roll of a ten game losing streak and fizzle out. I thought Kobe would become the ball hog we have all come to admire and loathe in the same breath. I thought the young players would disappear into the shadows of the cavernous Staples Center.

None of those scenarios happened then, and it will not happen now.

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The Lakers tonight will face one of the toughest challenges yet: to close out a series against the reigning NBA champs. The Spurs will throw everything and the kitchen sink onto the floor of the Staples Center. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker will get their points. Manu Ginobli will fight to get the same looks he got in game three. Bruce Bowen will bump and hip check his way into Kobe Bryant’s nerves.

But despite all of this, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will turn up their aggression yet again. Sasha Vujacic will pester his way into Ginobli’s nightmares. And above all Kobe will be Kobe.

It’s going to be an emotional scrappy game tonight, and at time it will be absolutely ugly. Despite this, the Lakers will impose their will on the Spurs from the beginning of the game. I’m not saying the Spurs will lay down, but they will get blown out. The Lakers will win by 22 points, the people of Los Angeles will rejoice and all will be all right again in the basketball world.

AP Photo by Eric Gay