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10.01.2008

Defense Doesn't Always Win Championships I

L.A. Lakers vs. San Antonio, 2001 Western Conference finals

The defending-champion Lakers coasted through the 2000-01 regular season before turning it on at the end. Again, they finished "only" second in offensive efficiency, but that was with Kobe missing 14 games, Ron Harper 35 and Derek Fisher a whopping 62. Meanwhile, the Spurs rolled to the West's best record behind a defense that was No. 1 in efficiency, with the Duncan-Robinson duo serving as its cornerstone.

That should have set up an epic battle in the conference finals. Instead, it was one of the most lopsided series in league history. Finally at full strength, L.A. blasted the Spurs in four games by a total of 89 points en route to its second consecutive title. Though San Antonio's inability to score played a role, L.A.'s offense also had the upper hand.

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