Lakers Calm, Confident Heading Into Game 5

by May 27, 2010

There’s no sense of panic in the Laker locker room, and Phil Jackson claims this is the kind of challenge his team needs and embraces. The LA Times reports: “Kobe Bryant’s far from happy with the Lakers’ performance, as is Coach Phil Jackson, who had plenty to critique about the Suns’ rebounding advantage (51-36), the Lakers’ shooting from three-point range (nine of 28) and the team’s defense. But Jackson’s comments to his players during Wednesday’s practice summed up pretty well how he views the team’s current situation. ‘Like I told them, if you can’t meet this challenge,’ Jackson said, ‘why go to the Finals?’ That seemed almost a guarantee as recently as last week with the Lakers opening up a 2-0 series lead while Phoenix showed no signs it could shut down the Lakers’ numerous options in Bryant, the team’s outside game and the suddenly hot outside shooting. Given that closing out the series would’ve given the Lakers additional time off while Orlando has crept back with Boston, this isn’t the scenario Jackson or his players want. But Jackson’s comments to his team spoke more of what he hoped served as a teachable moment during the postseason. How a team responds during adverse situations can reveal its true colors better than when things are going smoothly. ‘There’s absolutely no doubt that we love this,’ Jackson said. ‘This is what champions are made of. We had this situation with Oklahoma [in the first round tied 2-2]. We had it with Denver last year in the Finals. It should be like this. This is what it should be if you have the best teams in the West going up against each other. It should come down to a challenge like this. If the teams have the grit and ability, then they’re here. Then it should come down to this kind of a challenge. We want to accept that and go forward.”‘