Lakers doing their best to look ahead to Game 5 Print
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Saturday, 14 June 2008 13:24
NBA Headline News

 EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (AP) -Saturday's headlines screamed the historic significance of the Lakers' shocking meltdown.
From the Los Angeles Times: ``The game hurts. Lakers are just the latest L.A. team to take a big fall.''
From the Los Angeles Daily News: ``Heartbreak City. After the Lakers collapse in Game 4, we look at some of the biggest meltdowns in L.A. sports history.''
Those were from the front page of the city's two major newspapers, not from the sports sections. The comparisons to failures by the likes of past Lakers teams as well as UCLA, USC, the Dodgers, Rams, Angels and Kings dated to the 1960s.
Yep, the Lakers' come-from-ahead 97-91 loss to the Boston Celtics on Thursday night lives on in these parts, and as center Pau Gasol put it, three straight Los Angeles victories will likely be the only way it will be put to rest.
The Lakers led by 24 points in the second quarter and by 20 midway through the third period before being outscored 47-21 to finish what turned out to be the biggest recorded collapse in NBA finals history.
``I still can't believe we lost that game, even after watching it a second time,'' forward Vladimir Radmanovic said after practice Saturday.
So instead of entering Game 5 on Sunday night in a 2-2 tie, the Lakers find themselves in a 3-1 hole. They realize only eight teams in NBA playoff history have recovered from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series, and that it's never happened in the finals.
``We're down 3-1. The Yankees were up 3-1,'' said Lamar Odom, a Yankees fan who hasn't forgotten the 2004 AL championship series, when the Yankees actually led Boston 3-0 before losing four straight games and the Red Sox went on to win their first World Series in 86 years.
``It was tough, one of the toughest ones I've ever been through,'' Odom said of the crushing Game 4 loss. ``Teams like (the Celtics) when you've got them down, you've got to kill them.''
Those on the Lakers' side seemed unaware of what's been said or written.
``No,'' Kobe Bryant replied flatly when asked if he knew of the criticism.
The MVP said he's taken refuge by reading to his young daughters.
``Like five chapters of Harry Potter,'' Bryant said. ``They just wanted me to read them and I swear, it was awesome. He had more problems dealing with Voldemort than we have dealing with the media and the Celtics.''
Assistant coach Jim Cleamons said he's stayed away from the newspapers.
``Having lived through it, I didn't want to relive it,'' he said.
Same for Gasol.
``I haven't read or heard any criticism,'' he said. ``I haven't watched TV or read the papers. I've only watched the video.''
Lakers coach Phil Jackson canceled practice Friday, instead showing tape of the first half of Game 4, when his team dominated the Celtics.
Ronny Turiaf said he showed up about an hour early before the scheduled practice to work out, and teammate Luke Walton was already on the floor when he arrived.
Sasha Vujacic, a Game 3 hero and a Game 4, goat said he dealt with his disappointment by watching a couple movies and doing some thinking before dropping by the Lakers' practice facility Friday night to work on his game.
``I came here about 7 o'clock, I had a person rebounding for me,'' he said. ``Shot, shot, shot. Defense, defense, defense. Defense wins championships.
``We are down 3-1, we can't lose any more. I think that's a great challenge.''
Backup guard Jordan Farmar said he went to UCLA and shot baskets after the Lakers were sent home Friday.
``We love it. This is what to do, this is a sanctuary,'' he said of the basketball court. ``I just wanted to hang out with my friends, do what we do.''
Odom said he got off his feet, watched some baseball, ``chilled out a little bit.''
He said he didn't read about Game 4, and doesn't believe the Lakers will have trouble getting past it.
``Nah. Nah. Nah. We're tough,'' he said. ``It's cool now, because it's over. The worst part is over. We know we can beat this team. We have to take it possession by possession, quarter by quarter, game by game.
``We know who we represent - our franchise, our city. We damn sure don't want to lose here.''
Radmanovic said he realizes the odds are against the Lakers. Not only has no team come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the finals, two of the three wins the Lakers need would have to come in Boston, where the Celtics are 12-1 in the postseason.
``We know there are going to be a lot of critics about (Game 4),'' he said. ``If we do come back and do a miracle, a lot of people will be looking back to that game.''
A miracle?
``In a certain way it would be,'' Radmanovic said. ``No team has ever come back from that sort of deficit. It certainly would be some sort of miracle. We can cry about it or put it aside and play better than we did.
``As a basketball player, you've got to believe it can happen. I believe.''
 

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