Lakers-Thunder: LA Proves Experience Still Matters in 111-87 Game Five Victory

The 2008-09 Los Angeles Lakers accomplished something that hadn't been done in 20 years: They became the first NBA Finals runner-up since the 1988-89 Detroit Pistons to win a championship the following season.

If you were to look at the 20 championships won in the years between, you'd realize how big a part experience plays.

Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls managed to repeat four times en route to six titles. The Shaq/Kobe Lakers did it twice on their way to a three-peat, and Olajuwon's Houston Rockets did it once in winning consecutive rings in 1994 and 1995.

Even the Tim Duncan-led Spurs, who never won a back-to-back title, could cull from their experiences of previous championships in winning three more titles between 2003 and 2007.

It also didn't hurt that the Spurs won their first title in the 1999 strike-shortened, Michael Jordan-less season.

The only teams to win championships between 1989 and 2009 who didn't win another title were the 2003-04 Detroit Pistons, the 2005-06 Miami Heat, and the 2007-08 Boston Celtics.

Of those three teams, the Celtics were the only ones who didn't play in the conference finals the previous season. But that Celtics team added Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, James Posey, and P.J. Brown—experienced veterans who weren't on the team the year before.

So it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the Lakers were able to regroup Tuesday and defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in what was probably their most impressive victory since beating the Celtics in Boston back on Jan. 31.

Xs and Os matter. But when push comes to shove, sometimes it's the mental that gets you over the top.

Tuesday night's game was a little bit of both.

Phil Jackson decided to do something he probably should have done much earlier in the series—he let Kobe Bryant guard Russell Westbrook, and put Derek Fisher on the offensively-challenged Thabo...

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