If the Los Angeles Lakers' injury luck wasn't already bad enough with the season-ending injury of Kobe Bryant, it's only gotten a whole lot worse heading back to Staples Center for Game 3 against the San Antonio Spurs.
Steve Blake, who had been playing critical off-ball minutes since Bryant's injury, strained a hamstring in the Lakers' Game 2 loss and is out indefinitely. And if that wasn't bad enough, fellow guards Steve Nash and Jodie Meeks were considered doubtful for Friday night with various ailments, per ESPN's Marc Stein.
If you're counting at home, that leaves the Lakers without their regular season starting backcourt (Nash and Bryant), their playoff starting backcourt (Nash and Blake), and the man who could function as a second option in the event of a Blake or Nash injury (Meeks). They still had enough starters to field a backcourt against San Antonio, but one had to wonder whether Jack Nicholson would wind up leaving his courtside seats for crunch-time minutes at point guard.
Down 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, these injuries are critical enough that it would be hard to blame Los Angeles for waving the white flag. But Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol have done their best to (unsuccessfully) keep the Lakers competitive in the first two contests, and Mike D'Antoni's strategical changes have been admirable.
To think they'd give up now would be to ignore all the fight the Lakers put into making the playoffs in the first place.
That being said, the Spurs have looked fantastic in the first two games—especially in the second half—and they will want to make as quick work of the Lakers as they can. A second-round rest is critical for a team like San Antonio, a group of grizzled veterans looking to make an NBA championship run.
Could the Spurs extend their lead to 3-0? Here is a look at all the highlights from Friday night's action in Los Angeles.