Don't Panic: Luck Be a Los Angeles Laker

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Don't Panic: Luck Be a Los Angeles Laker
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From our corrections and retractions department: Okay, maybe this is a rivalry .

In defense of my last article, I did warn the Lakers about looking past the Phoenix Suns, even if that's what I was essentially doing in my own thesis.

Also in my defense, I wasn't the only one.

Rumors of Lamar Odom partying in New York blew up the Twitterverse . They were, of course, false, but were plausible enough to actually carry steam for awhile.

Before Sunday, rumors that Phil Jackson would be partying with Mikhail Prokhorov in Newark next season dominated fan and media discussion as well.

The only topic that didn't seem to be dominating the conversation was, well, the opponent at hand.

Now, the Western Conference Finals stand at 2-2, reset to a short three-game series, with the Lakers having the home-court advantage and the Suns having all the momentum.

Panic sweeps Lakers Nation. Its many enemies abroad begin to lick their chops at the prospect of bringing Kobe and his whirlybird back down to earth.

The Lakers are working too hard against Phoenix's twilight zone defense, which appears to have sent the Lakers' offense into another dimension.

Phoenix's bench looks strong enough to carry the team, while the Lakers' doesn't look strong enough to carry a towel.

The Suns are creating, and getting, opportunities to get to the free throw line, while the charity stripe has been so foreign to the Lakers, they should ask to see its papers (too soon, Arizona?).

Andrew Bynum has again picked the absolute worst time to take his annual vacation, while Amar'e Stoudemire responded to the controversy over his Lamar Odom comment with a monstrous Game Three performance (42 points, 11 rebounds).

Even Sir Charles proclaimed Arizona's Lo-Lo's better than southern California's Roscoe's Fried Chicken & Waffles chain on TNT after the game last night.

(Chuck, you might have a little bit more credibility and years of eating on me to make such a statement, but not now, not ever, could Lo-Lo's be better than Roscoe's. This isn't even close to being a rivalry.)

Oh, for the those long-ago days (only a week ago) when the Lakers were actually being called lucky. Just as quickly as fortune appeared to favor the Lakers, it has now swung back to the Suns.

The NBA—it's fantastic...and fickle.

It's appropriate that the life and passing of Hitchhikers's Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams was honored yesterday with "Towel Day ," because there are two words I have for you, the Forum blue-and-gold faithful.

Don't panic.

Is it just me, or have we been here before? 

You know, last year in the conference semifinals when the Houston Rockets took home-court advantage away from the Lakers in Game One, and tied the series at 2-2 after a game in which they appeared to control the tempo and gain the upper hand? The teams then swapped blowouts in a series that eventually went seven and to the Lakers.

How about just a round later, in the very same Western Conference Finals, when the Denver Nuggets also squared the series at two apiece, before the Lakers woke up to take the series 4-2?

Do you see a pattern emerging? 

Face it, Lakers fans. The only people the Lakers like to torture more than opposing teams is you. Just when you're getting ready to crow about how easy it will be to keep the championship in Los Angeles, they do something on the court to make you eat crow.

Search your feelings. You know it to be true. It was always going to have to be like this. If the Lakers are now, ahem, lucky enough to move on to the next round, you know they'll put you, Joe Fan, through the paces yet again.

As Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey once said, luck is just the residue of design.

The Lakers have now seen the Suns' game at its best. They have to make the correct adjustments in Game Five if they want to get back to their lucky ways in Games One and Two.

In the meantime, the only consolation Lakers fans have is that past is a prologue, and that their team has done well before when painted into a corner by young and hungry Western Conference upstarts.

It also doesn't hurt to have what might still be the most clutch player in the game.

Hey, and if things don't work out, there's always Roscoe's.

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