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The Lakers were in a position to win both Games 2 & 4, but instead the Thunder celebrated on their way to a 3-1 series lead. Photo by Mark J. Terrill
Don’t count on a comeback from this Lakers team
By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor
Any Lakers fan hoping that this team can muster up the courage to come back from a 3-1 deficit against the Oklahoma City Thunder, don’t count on it. This is a team that has the talent and abilities, but in the end, they’ll just let you down.
That is pretty much what happened in Games 2 & 4 in this series, when the Lakers should have walked away with victories after holding leads late in the 4th period of both of those games, but instead they let both games slip away. This series could easily be 3-1 in the Lakers favor, but this is not the Lakers team that recently won back-to-back titles. Some of the main characters may be the same, but this team certainly is not the same.
The Lakers should have come back to Los Angeles with the series tied at one game a piece and they should be going back to Oklahoma City with the series lead, but when it matters the most they disappoint big time.
It would be hard to believe that there would be another game as disappointing as Game 2, when they blew a seven point lead with under two minutes to play, but blowing a 13 point fourth period Game 4 lead that was capped off by another costly last minute turnover was just as bad.
The Lakers have proved that they can play toe-to-toe with the much younger and more athletic Thunder team, in a series that many people thought that the Lakers would get blown out in. For long periods of time the Lakers have looked like the better team. But it is like the Lakers can enforce their strength and will on the Thunder for three and a half periods, but then their old age catches up to them and they run out of gas.
In Game 4 Kobe Bryant was playing great through three periods, scoring 31 points while driving to the basket for the most part, but in the fourth it appeared to be tired legs that led to him taking a lot of jump shots, which resulted in 2-for-10 shooting in the period.
But the one play that really showed that the magic is gone with this team was when Bryant passed the ball to Pau Gasol with about thirty seconds to play in a tied game. Bryant made the correct play. He passed the ball into the low post to a player who just had to turn and put up an easy 10-foot shot. But instead Gasol shrunk in the moment and decided not to take the shot. Instead he tried to kick the ball out behind the three-point line, Kevin Durant intercepted the pass, and then marched right down court and hit the go-ahead three-point shot. Game over, thanks for showing up Lakers, but this series is pretty much over.
Gasol, who is being paid $18 million a season and is supposed to be an All-Star, should have nailed that shot and given the Lakers a two-point lead, and they would have only needed one stop to tie the series up. But instead Gasol proved everybody that calls him soft correct. He saw a defender coming at him so he panicked instead of taking the shot.
Bryant obviously cannot do everything by himself. When he tries to the Lakers fail. But now when he does not try to do everything himself, and he passes the ball to an open teammate, the Lakers still fail.
The Lakers are good enough to be title contenders, but as a team they have lost that championship drive. That drive to close out games. So far this series perfectly proves that.
It is rare for a team to come back from being down 3-1, and this Lakers team has not shown signs of a team that can muster up some pride and make it happen. They, namely Gasol, needs to dig down deep and find some grit if they have any plans to pull off a miracle. It will be interesting to see if Andrew Bynum shows up, or folds, seeing that is what he thinks about teams who are on the verge of being closed out.
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