For many reasons, the Western Conference finals between the L.A. Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs emphasized a changing of the guard in the NBA, or at least the Western Conference. The Spurs are still a good team but somewhere along the line, a certain quality about that team that been a strength (experience) turned into a weakness (age).
Or at least the Spurs appeared old when faced with a younger, intense and talented team that has come into its own and now has confidence in its own abilities.
The Lakers beat the Spurs, 100-92, last night at the Staples Center to win the conference finals, 4-1, and await either Boston and Detroit where the Celts lead that series, 3-2. As they did in several games this series, the Spurs led early -- by 13 after the first quarter, by 17 during the second and even by 10 in the third. But the Laker defense muffled the Spurs and in the fourth period, Kobe Bryant took over, much as he did in Game 1 and scored 17 points.
Now, Bryant's contention during an interview after last season that, "At this point I'd go play on Pluto" seems laughable. And the direction for the Spurs, winners of four NBA titles since 1999, seems uncertain.