In a game where the Lakers were expected to come out firing on all pistons, they didn’t.
And for a minute, Lakers’ fans were left to wonder: Are we going to have to force a Game Seven for a shot at the finals?
If you’ve seen any of the games, you know the Lakers have been playing with about half of their talent potential, lost games that should have been won, and made some pretty hideous plays.
But tonight, fortunately, the basketball gods were watching over the Lakers and provided them the “umph” they needed to come out with a win to lead the series, 3-2.
The Lakers were able to capitalize on offense and defense in the fourth quarter, winning 103-94.
Kobe Bryant had 22 points, and Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Trevor Ariza, and Lamar Odom added 14, 12, 12, and 19, respectively.
Odom, who has been tagged the "X" Factor by head coach Phil Jackson, seemed to regain some momentum for the first time this series, and certified the nickname.
While a sluggish start forced the Lakers to battle it out throughout the first three quarters, the fourth quarter was anything but.
That being said, for those who have doubted the Lakers this postseason, here’s something to think about: It’s easy to doubt a team who isn’t playing to their potential. But the truth of the matter is that even when the Lakers have played half-heartedly, they have managed to create ways to take the series.
And while some may state the Lakers aren’t playing to their “playoff potential,” that’s precisely what makes them championship material. While teams like the Denver Nuggets, Orlando Magic, and Cleveland Cavaliers have had to play to all out, night-in-and-night-out to win, the Lakers only need a mediocre performance to get by.
For opponents, that should be reason for concern.
I’m not defending the Lakers nor am I endorsing their middling performance. In fact, I’ve been one of those Lakers’ fans yelling at the TV, “You don’t deserve a championship!”
But in the end, it all washes out. I’d be devastated if the Lakers lost, and that’s the truth. So while I sit here and write this, I acknowledge the Lakers are going to have to play better, and they should probably do it soon.
In case you missed it, the Orlando Magic won Game Five against the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday to take a dominating series lead, 3-1.
And I really doubt the Magic are going to be so forgiving, if they face the Lakers in the finals. In fact, the Cavs would be a tough challenge as well.
While some people are expecting a huge Cavs comeback to feature the highly marketed Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James matchup, I only have this to say: I don’t give a damn about LeBron and the Cavs.
So Lakers, from a dedicated fan, heed this advice: Play better, faster, cleaner, and whole-heartedly. I know you’re great, but make other fans and teams realize it too.
I only care that Bryant and Co. are holding that trophy at the end of June.