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Back in California, Lakers look to rebound from 0-2 hole in NBA finals

Back in California, Lakers look to rebound from 0-2 hole in NBA finals

Frequent flyers, the Los Angeles Lakers were allowed an unlimited number of carry-on items for their trip home.
It remains to be seen if any of them contained momentum.
After losing the first two games of the NBA finals in Boston, the Lakers returned to California on Monday in a hole as deep as Topanga Canyon. Over 96 minutes, they have looked nothing like the team which pulverized Denver, pushed aside Utah and swatted away San Antonio with ease on the way to winning the Western Conference title.
With the exception of an eight-minute stretch at the end of Game 2, Kobe Bryant and his crew have looked sickly in the finals.
However, there's no truth to the rumor they were taken from their charter plane at LAX in Paul Pierce's infamous wheelchair.
Though down 0-2, and facing history along with the league's toughest defense, the Lakers felt good about their comeback _ they whacked a 24-point deficit to two over the final 7:55 _ and are confident they can swing the series at the Staples Center in Game 3 on Tuesday.
They are 8-0 in the playoffs there and unbeaten in 14 home games since March 28.
"All they did is protect their home court," said Lakers guard Sasha Vujacic, who made two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 108-102 loss and had a potential go-ahead 3 blocked by Pierce with 14 seconds left. "All they did was protect their home court, so it's going to be a different story in L.A."
It had better be.
Only three teams: Boston against Los Angeles in 1969, Portland against Philadelphia in 1977, and Miami against Dallas in 2006 have overcome an 0-2 deficit to win it all. The Lakers have some work to do if they intend to be the fourth.
Through two games, they have been outhustled, outmuscled, outeverythinged by a Celtics team now two wins from a 17th NBA championship. Following Sunday's loss, Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson was asked if the team can carry the momentum from their failed, frantic fourth-quarter comeback into Game 3.
"No, no," Jackson said. "It's 2,500 miles away. It's too far to carry it."
The purple-and-gold, though, have been a different club while playing before super fan Jack Nicholson and Hollywood's glitzy crowd. Like the Celtics, the Lakers will try to feed off the energy of being back in familiar surroundings.
The Lakers need Bryant to start being himself and make some shots. He's 20-of-49 in two games. They need Pau Gasol to assert himself from start to finish, and they'll need their touted bench to do more than it has done so far. Boston's reserves have outclassed the Lakers' backups.
It wouldn't hurt, either, if Los Angeles got some referee calls. In Sunday's loss, the Celtics went to the free throw line 38 times to just 10 for the Lakers, many of whom barked at the officials throughout the game. Bryant was called for a technical for complaining and Danny Crawford seemed to be close to giving him a second one.
Jackson pointed out that Celtics reserve Leon Powe (it rhymes with show), whose name he mispronounced following the game, shot more free throws (13) than his entire team.
"That's ridiculous," he said. "Unbelievable."
He could have been talking about his team.


Updated : 2021-05-18 21:23 GMT+08:00