LOS ANGELES -- As the Lakers rolled to a 118-78 victory over the Rockets (
Far too often in these playoffs, the Lakers have tried to defeat opponents like a
That apparently ended with the Rockets' humiliation of the Lakers on Mother's Day, a game in which the Lakers trailed by 29 in the fourth quarter.
"We stayed focused the whole game and that was the key," said forward
Instead of playing the game like a kid fiddling with a light switch, turning it on and off, the Lakers left it on from the opening tip and finally shined for the first time in these playoffs. Their 31-6 run from the middle of the first quarter through the beginning of the second proved decisive. For the first time since the end of the regular season, the Lakers grew stronger as the game wore on.
"We were focused after the nice butt-kicking we took down there in Houston," said forward
It was the kind of performance that reminded many why the Lakers were considered the favorites to win the NBA championship before the playoffs began. It was a reminder that when this team is on and running, it is almost impossible to stop.
While the Lakers finally began to play up to expectations, Houston may have fallen back to earth after overachieving without
"You just got to stay focused and you have to understand that the effort we had tonight is not going to be enough on Thursday [in Game 6], it's just not," Bryant said. "So you got to pick it up and bring more energy and bring more effort because that's what the playoffs are about."
"We started the game off with a lot of energy," said Odom, who got treatment on his back all day Monday and Tuesday. "You know the strength of our team is our depth. If we can get contributions from everyone, then we're pretty hard to beat."
If the Lakers play with the kind of energy they did Tuesday, it's hard to see this series going past Game 6 in Houston on Thursday. "I think we're going to respond. Our team has always responded," Rockets coach