The Comeback It wasn't quite as miraculous as Derek Fisher's 0.4 shot against the Spurs in 2004 or as unbelievable as Robert Horry's game-winner against the Kings in '02 or as implausible as the 16-point fourth quarter comeback against the Blazers in 2000. But it was, for what it's worth, the first memorable playoff moment for this version of the Lakers. Down by 20 points midway through the third quarter, the Lakers looked like a team that was rusted rather than rested against the Spurs, coming off playing a Game 7 just two days earlier. "I told the players that with the 6 [PT] game, they didn't wake up until the normal game time at 7:45 tonight," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. Their wake-up coincided with the emergence Kobe Bryant (right), who had only two points in the first half but scored 25 in the second, including 14 in the fourth quarter. "I didn't think he was taking shots available to him," said Jackson. "He was doing some good things, but it had gotten us out of rhythm during the course of the first half."
The Big Threes This series will most likely be decided by the performance of both teams' respective Big Threes. For much of the game, however, the Lakers' trio of leading scorers consisted of Pau Gasol, Vladimir Radmanovic and Jordan Farmar, as Bryant and Fisher combined for only two points in the first half -- the backcourt's lowest scoring output from this season. Meanwhile, the Spurs got everyone involved in the game early, as the trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili collectively finished with 58 points and 32 rebounds. While Bryant and Gasol combined for 46 points, the Lakers missed the usually steady presence of Fisher and Lamar Odom, who totaled only 12 points and 11 rebounds. "We're just playing," said Fisher. "There is no script to an NBA basketball game. You just go out and play as hard as you can and just try to do the things you do, but sometimes they don't go quite to plan."
Beware Of The Hangover There's nothing the Spurs haven't seen or done during their run of four championships in nine years, but squandering a 20-point lead with 5:40 left in the third quarter isn't something they are accustomed to. While they were able to recover from getting blown out in their first two games against New Orleans in the West semis, this loss could be harder to regroup from in 48 hours. "Coaches worry about everything," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. "We worry about that energy coming back. We got to make sure we don't let that dissipate for the game on Friday."
Dynamic Duo Usually postgame press conferences are done individually, but Bryant and Gasol conducted theirs jointly after the game, with Gasol sitting on the stool in front of the podium usually reserved for Jackson, while Bryant sat at a table. "The professor and the student," said one reporter as Bryant smiled and said, "This is awkward." Gasol and Bryant played off each other in the presser almost as well as they did during the game. After Gasol was asked a question in Spanish, Bryant said, "Wait, let everybody get their Spanish dictionaries out."
American Idol Across the street from the Staples Center, the finale of American Idol was taking place at the Nokia Theatre, causing lane closures, heavy traffic and some interesting observations from the coaches. When asked if he was a fan of the show, Popovich smiled and said, "What is that? I wish I would have known. I would have stopped on the way and checked it out. Is that the one where they dance with each other?" Not quite, Pop, Dancing With The Stars was last night. Jackson was slightly more pop-culture savvy, thanks to his girlfriend and Lakers Executive Vice President Jeannie Buss. "I am kind of a naysayer, but I enjoy watching it with Jeannie," he said. "She edits it for me so I can critique it. I think David will win, without a doubt." Jackson was technically right, as David Cook beat out David Archuleta.
You May Like
More More Sports
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!