EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) - Zen-master Phil Jackson was at it again Friday, trying to motivate star Kobe Bryant after the Lakers' unprecedented collapse in Game 4 of the NBA finals.
Reaching into the Celtics' postgame comments for bulletin board material, Jackson cited comments by Kevin Garnett that would probably attract Bryant's interest.
The problem: Jackson wouldn't elaborate.
``They're in the transcripts if you want to read the transcripts,'' was all the coach would say.
But nothing in the transcript really seems all that inflammatory.
Garnett did say that he was so close to his first championship that he ``can taste it''; but he also made the requisite disclaimer that there was more work to be done.
Garnett also said the Lakers weren't as aggressive in the in the second half as the first half, an analysis that was repeated by many at Staples Center after Boston rallied from a 24-point deficit to win 97-91 and move within one victory of the NBA title.
``Usually the first half is team ball, second half is usually Kobe takes over the games,'' Garnett said. ``It just looks like they wanted to get the ball to Kobe and him sort of finish it off. ... We were giving Kobe every look we've got in the book, from different matchups to trapping him to a guy on the bottom. We were just making other guys make plays.''
Jackson said he didn't think Bryant would be motivated by the news that Paul Pierce wanted to guard him in the second half on Thursday night.
``That's not going to be as much of an interest point to him as probably what Garnett said,'' Jackson said. ``And that'll probably weigh (more) strongly with Kobe, than that aspect, that Pierce wanted to guard him.''
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BOTTOMS UP: Kobe Bryant talked about taking a lot of shots, and he meant nothing about basketball.
His teammates apparently didn't listen.
Following the Los Angeles Lakers' 97-91 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 4 of the NBA finals, Bryant said the team ``wet the bed - a nice big one, too. One of the ones you can't put a towel over.'' And he had some suggestions how to bounce back from a game in which they blew a 24-point lead and a chance to tie the series.
``A lot of wine, a lot of beer, a couple shots, maybe like 20 of them, digest it, get back to work tomorrow,'' Bryant said. ``Nothing you can do.''
Late Friday morning came word that the Lakers had canceled practice. Had the players followed Bryant's advice and were too hungover to play ball?
``No, I think that they looked clear-eyed today for the most part,'' said Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who saw the players earlier for a film session. ``They looked relatively clear-eyed.''
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BACK TO THE BEGINNING: Celtics coach Doc Rivers is in his first NBA finals as a coach, opposing nine-time NBA champion Phil Jackson.
But the Celtics boss doesn't think he deserves the credit for bringing Boston within one victory of its 17th NBA title.
``This is a players' game. It always will be, and it really should be,'' Rivers said Friday. ``Naismith did not invent this game for us to be talking about coaches, and I believe that. I truly believe that. But it is, it's a players' game, and our job is to get the players to play.''
Now in his fourth year with the Celtics, Rivers lost more games with each passing year before bottoming out with 24 wins in 2006-07. The Celtics won an NBA-best 66 games this season - the biggest turnaround in league history.
But Rivers knows that had less to do with him than the addition of All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to a team that already included Paul Pierce.
In his coaching debut with the Orlando Magic in 1999-2000, Rivers took a talent-starved roster built around eager young players and finished 41-41.
So, which was harder?
``I would say this is more difficult because there's better players that you have to get to buy in'' to the coaching philosophy, Rivers said. ``That Orlando team was just a bunch of guys who wanted to make it in the league, and you could basically turn them up and let them go and they'd run through a wall for you.
``The problem with that team was with two minutes left in the game, you didn't have a lot of options. The great part of this team is you have a lot of options.''
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SHIRT OFF HIS BACK: Celtics star Kevin Garnett has already beaten the Lakers' Kobe Bryant for one honor: Garnett's jersey is the biggest seller at the NBA store in New York and its online affiliate.
Bryant was second, Cleveland's LeBron James was third, Denver's Allen Iverson was fourth and New Orleans' Chris Paul was fifth.
The Los Angeles Lakers 2008 Western Conference championship Locker Room T-shirt and hat set was the best-selling conference championship item ever. Bryant's MVP T-shirt was the highest-selling MVP T-shirt in history.
In all, playoffs and finals merchandise more than doubled over last year.

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