Last year, it was a sweep by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
This year, it's the on-the-rise Thunder, and potential champs themselves.
Game 5 was, in many ways, a microcosm of what we saw all series. Throughout each game, the Lakers kept it close, nearly winning games 2 and 4, but a lack of execution down the stretch showed that the Thunder have an advantage; whether it be youth, talent, or even coaching, they had an edge that allowed them to survive in late game situations.
Game 5 played out in similar fashion. The Lakers kept it tight through 3 quarters. But unlike LeBron, who recognized that he must play nearly all 48 minutes in their last game to ensure a victory, Kobe can no longer fill that role. He needs his requisite rest to start the 4th quarter. A chance to recharge before the final push. But last night, that rest allowed the Thunder to put the game out of reach. Of course, in years past the Lakers had a supporting cast that was prepared for the potential onslaught, but between foul trouble, shrinking from the moment, and general lapses, it was not to be.