There will be teams that will make their layups down the stretch. There will be teams that will not fall apart after turning a 22-point deficit into a two-possession game. There will be teams that can
After the Lakers nearly squandered a 20-point lead in the opening game of the series, coach
The Lakers built 20-point leads in their three home victories in the series but allowed the Jazz to creep within a couple of possessions each time. Remember, the Lakers were playing a team that lost 11 of its last 18 games and seven of its last nine to fall to the eighth and final seed.
After Monday's victory, the dry erase board in the locker room read, "12 more." The "not like that" was left out, as the Lakers knew they weren't going to go far in the playoffs by making a habit of coughing up big leads. The locker room cleared out quicker than it would have had the team lost, as the dejected looks on the players' faces told the story of a team that hadn't so much advanced in the playoffs but survived without playing well.
"We've got to give a better effort," said
"I am just being aggressive with and without the ball," Odom said. "The best thing you can do in there is play hard, get offensive rebounds and push it."
Normally you don't associate
With the Jazz eliminated, the Lakers must now wait to face either the Rockets or Trail Blazers. Houston leads the series 3-1, which is good news since the Lakers have lost eight in a row at Portland dating to 2005. While Bryant said he would love to play the Blazers after the Lakers' last loss in Portland, L.A. was 4-0 this season against Houston. The storyline in that series would be