Lakers Back-To-Back Against The Wall





HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS – If the Los Angeles Lakers are nervous at all about the task ahead — fighting off elimination in the Western Conference semifinals in a back-to-back set tonight and tomorrow at home — they’re doing a splendid job of faking it.

From Kobe Bryant to Andrew Bynum to Pau Gasol to Jack Nicholson (sorry, we threw him in there for effect), there seems to be no worry about anything going wrong in Game 3 tonight at Staples Center (10:30 ET, ESPN). After outplaying the Thunder for 46 of the 48 minutes in Game 2, the Lakers act as if they’ve solved the Rubik’s Cube that is Oklahoma City.

“We know exactly how to defend them,” Bynum said. “We’re actually confident.”

Maybe someone forgot to tell Bynum that the Lakers are facing more than just a survival game tonight; no team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a series. They’re facing that game with their backs firmly against the wall, on back-to-back nights.

The last time they were in this position was during 1999 Western Conference semifinals — the last lockout-shortened season. L.A. lost Games 3 and 4 to the San Antonio Spurs as Tim Duncan and David Robinson kicked off that franchise’s championship era.

Bryant was a part of that series, but feels one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. In fact, he’s not particularly concerned with the back-to-back set.

“I prefer not to have it” he said, “but I feel well rested. Everybody else feels well rested. We’ll be ready for it.”

The Lakers have no choice.

Facing a Thunder squad loaded with young, 20-something legs, the bounce back after Game 3, win or lose, figures to be much more physically taxing on the Lakers.

The Lakers went 9-9 in the first game of a back-to-back in the regular season and 10-9 in the second or third game (there were back-to-back-to-back sets during the condensed regular season). The Thunder, on the other hand, went 15-4 on the first night of back-to-backs in the regular season and 14-6 on the second or third night of a back-to-back sets.

Even more taxing than the psychological and emotional resilience needed after their two-minute meltdown in the final moments of their Game 2 loss, when they fumbled a seven-point lead and lost by 77-75 in a game that could have made this back-to-back set an opportunity for the Lakers to shift this pressure onto the Thunder.

Lakers coach Mike Brown would settle for simply continuing what the Lakers started in those first 46 minutes of Game 2. They’ve already made the defensive adjustments needed to slow the Thunder down … they just didn’t finish the job.

“What we’re doing is not anything special,” he said. “And at this point of this season, if we can’t sustain it, we don’t deserve to win.”

That’s why Brown is doing his best to maintain some sense of calm in a sea of craziness this weekend that includes those back-to-back sets for both the Lakers and their Staples Center roommates, the Los Angeles Clippers. They face a similar 0-2 hole against the Spurs in the other conference semifinal.

“I have to make sure that I am as calm and collected, or poised or however you call it, when I’m around those guys during the course of a game,” Brown said. “If they see panic in me and see I’m tense or concerned or worried in a negative way … because everybody is concerned about doing things in the right way, and giving effort and executing and effort and following the game plan and all that stuff … but if they see that I don’t have faith, they’ll feel it and they’ll feel the same way. So I try to stay loose in front of them, but in the same breath be focused, not only off the floor but when we’re on the floor in the course of a game, too. I try not to get bent out of shape and yell, too much. Because at this point in the season the yelling and stuff doesn’t work.”

The Lakers have to be in “whatever works” mode tonight.

They either save their season with a win tonight or start preparing for the inevitability that the end, of this season at least, is near.


25 Comments

  1. Reg says:

    We play best our basketball when our backs our against the wall, which is a shame; but whatever it takes to wake up the 16 time NBA Champions LAKERS I am all for it…. I believe they have found a scheme to defend against the penetration of OKC , which is key to slowing down those greyhounds. We will win game 4 by 10(Andrew will have a huge game and we will shoot over 47% for once) and go back to OKC and SHOCK THE WORLD… NO PHIL JACKSON, NO TRIANGLE, NO FISH, NO ODOM, FOR ALL OF THAT ALONE THE SEASON HAS BEEN REWARDING AND INTERESTING.. AND WILL ONLY CONTINUE IN THE NEXT WEEK… GO LAKERS…

  2. ruiz john mark says:

    game 6 is the end of okc!!

  3. Dar says:

    Don’t count out the Lakers when joey Crawford is the REF.Crawford loves the Lakers and I believe it now.Just read a lot of blogs where pepole was saying Crawford loves the Lakers.He gave them 42 free throwsOKC got 28.Come on Crawford,get your head out and be HONEST!!!Hard to beat a team with 42 free throws.Look at the film and see your really BAD calls.Kobe pushed and shoved players all night,but you didn’t see it.RIGHT!!!!!!

  4. K-IN-G says:

    L.A. is broken both physically and mentally. the only way Kobe gets that ring is if Jackson comes back. The Thunder are gonna bring the broom that dusted Dallas. the Finals are looking good. The experience of the Spurs and Celtics and the youth of the Thunder and Pacers. Forget the Lakers, they are too tired and the Heat are at yet another playoff breakdown.

  5. lakers have to bring it tonight if they dont want a repeat of last year’s postseason..i expect kobe to be clutch http://www.mindofmattman.com/2012/05/is-kobe-clutch.html

  6. spelkey55 says:

    Basketball is a team sport. OKC is a team built with many talented people smart enough to work hard together as a team effort. LA is disorganized supposed 3 superstars who try to do way to much on their own and are hung up on their own individual performances and jabbing at each other to put the needs of the team ahead of their own. They got rid of their outstanding role players nessesary to be an effective team. We are witnessing the results of complacency.

  7. OKC2012 says:

    @1GREATPLAYER…………. Ok but this is not the season, this is the PLAYOFFS….. you know, the time that actually matters. So why don’t you go review the PLAYOFFS, and when you see that your claim has not happened when it counts, come back and give us another false reason on why you are not a hater lol. Don’t talk bad about a team who is going to take your boys out, be mad at your team for giving you false hope. BTW your whole OKC wins a game and them makes boneheaded moves to lose the next hold no value even in the regular season considering OKC had a 47-19 record. If anybody comes to play 1 night and disappears the next its your big boys in purple, you know, the guy who thinks he’s the new shaq and the other guy who has a brother on the Grizzlies that your organization probably wishes they did not make that trade. Goodluck on your sour postseason hating though!

  8. TONY says:

    YEA BUDDY YOU KEEP THINKING THAT….LAKERS WILL TAKE THESE BACK TOBACK GAMES WITH EASE…..TRUST….TRUST!

  9. OKC2012 says:

    Also, no matter how much everybody wants to say, the Lakers might be great at home, but OKC is just as great on the road. Gotta hate the fact that even Kobe has already said that this Laker team is not the professional, experienced team that everybody thinks, he is already throwing out those little built in excuses, it’s obvious that physically they are tired, but when your Captain Superstar says things like this, its clear to see that even he has checked out mentally. Game 3 is not a do or die, it’s more of a how long can we keep this series going until we have to go home.

  10. Jazz4Life says:

    I agree with OKC2012, No is giving the Thunder credit for the comeback, instead all the “experts” are saying that the Lakers fell asleep for those last two minutes. Those two minutes felt more like 10 minutes, and the Thunder made ever right decision, not settling for jump-shots (like the Lakers) and taking it to the hoop.

    Like Dallas, the Lakers barley lost game 2, but that doesn’t mean the Thunder won’t explode at L.A. Who know, Harden may come out with a 30 + point game and Russ might catch fire again. Ibaka might core 20 points again or block 10 shots, or grab 20 rebounds.

    L.A is definitely in for a treat.

  11. OKC2012 says:

    First off the Lakers did not give away Game 2, OKC took it, has everybody forgot how long 2 minutes is in an NBA game, how many decisions need to be made, that was crunch time and the better coach with the better talent won the game it was not given to them. I guess the Knicks gave the game away when Reggie hit those 3′s in that one game years back, no he took it into his hand, ppl are so quick to blame never quick to give props. As fans I’m glad you guys still have hope because that’s what it’s all about, but honestly after that series with Denver and the loooong break OKC had, Lakers just don’t have it physically to take both back to back games, and they will just not beat OKC 3 games in a row lol. Now there is also the whole mental aspect here, I don’t really care but seriously Bynum needs to just take fines everyday and stop talking because everything he says is just bad and wrong, Artest is the same. BTW what on earth has Bynum done individually for him to have so many expectations, in my opinion he has not been consistent enough to be put on this pedestal of big men in the league. Gasol is his usual soft as baby wipes self and nobody can defend Durant, Westbrook, and Harden….. Meanwhile Bynum, Gasol, Sessions, Artest, and Kobe have all proven they can be defended by the players on OKC. OKC in 4…. 5 if the have a bad game.

  12. 1greatplayer says:

    thunder will NOT win a championship this year…it will either be celtics or spurs…OKC is still very young and immature and they lack a lot of things like for EXAMPLE if durant & westbrook have a great game on wednesday they both will have a bone-headed game on friday and committ a lot oif turnovers…its the truth & who thinks im “hating” can review thunder games for the season

    • OKCKD35 says:

      nice comment, which team has not made boneheaded plays this year? EVERY TEAM HAS what is your point, yes Durant and Westbrook might have a lot of turnovers, they are also the highest scoring duo in the league. The real point is for every bonehead play there are much more great plays. They are undefeated in the playoffs this year sweeping the reigning champions and up 2-0 on the lakers. what they made so called “bone headed” plays what happened? oh KD just hits a game winner then everyone comes on here crying that is it luck. the thunder WILL win a title this year because they have the most clutch player in the league, the most explosive guard in the league, the 6th man of the year, and the league’s leading shot blocker, doesnt sound to immature to me.

  13. digitioli says:

    The Thunder held home court like they’re supposed to – but just barely because of sloppy play by the Lakers down the stretch.

    It boils down to all the same stuff: the Laker bigs and bench bringing their A games, and Kobe playing like a team player.
    If all that happens, they have a better than average chance to beat these guys at home to even the series. If not, they will lose. Simple. Kobe, are you EVER going to learn? Jordan understood that as great as he was, he had to get his team mates going to win.
    The proof of greatness is in the winning as a team and putting as much effort into everything else – the scoring just comes naturally.
    Bynum what have you done that you think you can talk so much smack? How about letting your game do the talking there ‘Drew?
    He acts like he’d rather score more and lose than play D, rebound, and win. Phil knows what he’s talking about – play D and win.

  14. LA-Fan says:

    After three trips to the finals which resulted in two titles, this Lakers team does not appear to be hungry for another championship. Kobe is the only one that seems to want it. The on and off effort of Bynum and Gasol doesn’t match the effort you see coming from less talented teams like Denver. OKC’s desire to win was proven greater than LA’s desire in those last two minutes of the game.

  15. prix says:

    OKC is bringing only one thing to LA. The Broom!

  16. Belizeboy says:

    “We know exactly how to defend them,” and “Closeout games are easy”. I think Bynum is quoting from a book of cliché basketball sayings because nothing he says reflects what the Lakers are actually doing.

  17. Jones17 says:

    Still annoyed we are in this position. You just don’t throw games away like we did game 2 and get away with it. Kobe will never forgive himself if the Lakers don’t go through.

  18. sakev says:

    Mavericks thought they had the Thunder figured out as well after two close games in OKC. And that didn’t work out particularly well for them in game 3.

  19. #Laker City says:

    Lakers are heading back to Laker Land. We all know how good Lakers are at home, this could easily become another 7 game series if the Lakers are well focused and determined. Think only of this game, and nothing else.

    OKC is in for some big treat.