EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – On days like Thursday, when the shades to the second-floor office of Jeanie Buss — the Lakers’ executive vice president of business operations — are open, 10 gold championship trophies shine down on the court at the practice facility. At home games, the title banners hang prominently on an inside wall at one end of Staples Center.
Ramon Sessions notices. Not that he needed much reminding of playoff expectations after he arrived from Cleveland in a trade-deadline deal, but the pressure of delivering in the postseason has been hammered home. Little that happens in the previous months matter.
Sessions is in the playoffs for the first time anywhere as his career moves to a unique level of pressure because he replaces a point guard known for postseason clutch. That was the thing with Derek Fisher — he could drive Lakers fans mad with poor shooting and susceptible defense the first 82 games and still head into summer a hero.
Sessions merely has to save the day at some stage in the near future, that’s all. The Lakers cannot lose playoff games because of point-guard play, not after management risked chemistry by trading Fisher to the Rockets the same day they got Sessions from the Cavaliers. Not after Fisher, who was waived by Houston and eventually signed with OKC, showed a champion’s composure for so many years.
“No, it hasn’t at all,” he said when asked whether replacing Fisher has been on his mind during the playoffs. “It’s just coming out, taking it game by game, just getting that first one under my belt. Now it’s just looking forward to the road that we face. It’s going to be fun.”
The road continues Friday night in Denver in Game 3 against the Nuggets (10:30 ET, ESPN) with the Lakers holding a 2-0 lead in the series. Sessions has contributed 14 points and 4.5 assists while shooting 44.4 percent, mostly thanks to making six of 11 attempts in the opener before dipping to six of 16 on Tuesday.
The trophies and the banners looking down expect production.
“It just shows you these guys mean business,” Sessions said after practice Thursday, before the flight to Denver. “The regular season is good. But the playoffs is really where it counts.”