SAN ANTONIO -- Without the guy with the reputation for being basketball's ultimate closer, the Los Angeles Lakers looked lost and overmatched in the final minutes of quarters all night in their 102-91 loss in Game 2 to the San Antonio Spurs.
While the Spurs' Tim Duncan, who turns 37 on Thursday, was able to put his stamp on the game with 16 points, five rebounds and two blocks, the Lakers' 39-year-old Steve Nash looked, quite literally, to be on his last leg.
Playing for only the second time since missing the Lakers' final eight regular-season games with nerve damage in his right hamstring stemming from a right hip injury, Nash was just a shell of his former two-time MVP self.
Nash gave it his all in 32 minutes, shooting 50 percent from the field (nine points on 4-for-8 shooting) and dishing out a game-high six assists, but he didn't have the type of impact on the game he's used to having, and was seen limping around the court in dead-ball situations.
The Kobe Bryant-less Lakers just didn't have an answer on offense or composure on defense at the end of quarters, whereas the Spurs hunkered down and made what started off as anybody's game, another W for the team in silver and black.
How it happened: The Spurs were 35-6 at home and the No. 2 team in the West during the regular season for a reason. As much as it was Duncan's consistency, it was about Tony Parker's brilliance (28 points and seven assists), Matt Bonner's timeliness (10 points on 4-for-5 shooting, five rebounds and three steals), Kawhi Leonard's athleticism (16 points, seven rebounds) and Manu Ginobili's Manu-ness (13 points and seven assists in 19 minutes).
What it means: The Lakers played inside-out as planned and it wasn't enough. Dwight Howard (16 points, nine rebounds, four blocks) wasn't as dominant as planned (five turnovers, five fouls), nor was Pau Gasol (13 points on 5-for-14 shooting).
Hits: L.A. made slight improvements in 3-point shooting (8-for-22 instead of 3-for-15) and turnovers (13 instead of 18) from Game 1.
Steve Blake had 16 points before injuring his leg late in the game.
Misses: Jodie Meeks (sprained left ankle) did not play.
Stat of the game: The Spurs had seven players with seven points or more.
Up next: The Lakers are sure to get an emotional lift with Bryant in the building for Friday's Game 3 at Staples Center. As they say in this business, a playoff series doesn't truly start until a team wins on the road. If the Lakers can hold serve and win on their home court, then going into Game 4 down 2-1 doesn't seem so daunting. Of course, if they lose Friday then it will just about be time to turn the lights off on the Lakers' thoroughly disappointing 2012-13 season.