Times Staff Writer

Question: It must be a heavy load indeed to be anointed as "great" by the media before you've proved anything. I hate to disappoint the media guys who need heroes like radio needed the Lone Ranger, but this is a real series between two teams that could each win it. The Lakers only really have one guy, Kobe, who can take over a game . . . and his playoff pedigree was earned beside a guy who gets his fast food in Phoenix now. The Spurs have three [great players]. Will you guys have to cover the San Antonio-Detroit finals?


(and irritated) Spurs fan

Q&A of the day

Answer: Here are people who would be happy with a San Antonio-Detroit series: Residents of San Antonio, residents of Detroit. Here are people who would be unhappy with a San Antonio-Detroit series: David Stern, ABC, ESPN, every basketball reporter in the U.S., residents of L.A., residents of Boston, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Frodo Baggins, the pope, the United Nations and all life beyond Earth in the Milky Way galaxy.

Worst-case Lakers scenario

Manu Ginobili extends his Game 3 performance to Game 4. Tim Duncan continues to match the entire Lakers' frontcourt in rebounding. The Spurs extend the series to at least six games.

Best-case Lakers scenario

The Lakers are 2-6 in San Antonio since Derek Fisher's famous shot, but they somehow eke out another victory tonight and are a "W" away from a trip to the NBA Finals.

Where's Trevor?

Readers continue to inquire about Trevor Ariza, who has played only mop-up duty in his first two games back from injury. Here's the latest from Coach Phil Jackson: "Trevor hasn't been in that kind of milieu for a long time, that mix-it-up, bump-and-run, grind-out stuff that can mix a lot of bodies together. Finding his way through that is not really easy. It takes a little bit of time."

Final thought

Common sense (and the Q&A; participant above) would lean heavily toward the Spurs. But the Lakers seem quietly secure, perhaps because they know that Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom won't go nine for 29 again. After picking the Spurs to win Game 3, I can't shake the feeling that the Lakers win Game 4.

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