NBA Playoffs 2012: 5 Things Lakers Must Do to Come Back and Win the Series

Andre Khatchaturian@AndreKhatchCorrespondent IIIMay 17, 2012

NBA Playoffs 2012: 5 Things Lakers Must Do to Come Back and Win the Series

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    The Los Angeles Lakers played their game for 46 minutes.

    They did everything they had to do to win Game 2. 

    Then, in the last two minutes, everything unraveled. Kobe Bryant turned the ball over twice and missed a key shot, and the Oklahoma City Thunder ceased missing shots. They completed a seven-point comeback and took a 2-0 lead to Los Angeles.

    Although it seems like an insurmountable deficit, the Lakers have to be happy with the way they played for the first 46 minutes of the ball game. They controlled the tempo. The game was theirs to lose and they lost it.

    That being said, they have to put this game behind them and continue to do five things that they did well in Game 2 to get back in this series at Staples Center. 

Drive in to Force Thunder Players to Get in Foul Trouble

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    The only reason why the Los Angeles Lakers were even getting any points offensively on Wednesday night was because they were driving in the lane.

    That's how they were getting their points.

    They were 2-of-15 from three-point land, and it makes you wonder why a team that had the fifth lowest three-point percentage during the regular season continues to try to make the triple when they have Kobe Bryant and Ramon Sessions to drive the ball in the lane. They could even pound the ball to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.

    There is absolutely no reason why the Lakers should be shooting so many threes. First of all, they can't make any of them. Secondly, when they miss it results into long rebounds that turn into easy fast-break points for the Thunder. That's exactly what the Thunder want. That's their pace and style of play.

    The Lakers used Bynum and Gasol more extensively on Wednesday, and they should continue to do so throughout the rest of the series. Bynum took 19 shots and had 20 points. Gasol added 14 points. 

    It's a simple formula: Pound it inside or the drive the lane, and the Oklahoma City Thunder players get into foul trouble. 

    Once they're in foul trouble, they have to leave the game.

    Even if a guy like Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka gets one foul early on in the game, it's going to make them less hesitant to be physical, making it easier for Bynum and Gasol to dominate the paint.

    This happened on Wednesday.

    Thabo Sefolosha and Serge Ibaka both were in foul trouble, and because of that, they were limited in minutes and it allowed the Lakers to impose their will on the Thunder in the paint.

    It's not difficult. Use your guards to drive in the lane and use your bigs to wreak havoc in the paint. The Thunder players will get fouls called against them, thus making it even easier for the Lakers to be physical. 

Force Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant to Take Outside Shots

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    On the other side of the ball, the Lakers should concede shots at all costs. 

    Make Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant take outside jumpers. Avoid playing up against them so that they won't drive past the defenders. If they do, they will either most likely score or draw a foul.

    They're a quick team, so they can easily get past the Lakers defenders and score. And if they don't score and draw a foul, that means the Lakers will be reluctant to be physical because they won't want to get into foul trouble.

    It's as simple as that.

    The Lakers did a great job in doing this on Wednesday night. Russell Westbrook shot just 5-of-17, and the Thunder only had 68 points going into the final two minutes. 

    It's also important for the Lakers to force outside jumpers, because then they might get long rebounds that could turn into easy fast-break points. 

Slow Down the Pace of the Game

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    As mentioned in the first slide, if the Los Angeles Lakers pound the ball inside rather than take ill-advised outside jumpers, it will result in fewer fast-break opportunities. 

    They can't afford to be playing run-and-gun basketball with the Oklahoma City Thunder. They're far quicker than the Lakers, who lack youth and agility. 

    What the Lakers need to do is control the tempo of the game and make it as slow as possible. The way they do this is by pounding the rock to Bynum and Gasol and playing solid defense. 

    The Lakers were successful in doing this on Wednesday night for the first 46 minutes of the game, but they lost the ability to control the pace of the game in the final two minutes. 

No Stupid Mistakes

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    In the last slide, it was mentioned that the Lakers must control the pace during games. In order for this to happen, they must limit turnovers, fouls and stupid mistakes.

    They must play smart basketball throughout all 48 minutes and make wise decisions on the court. In the last two minutes on Wednesday night, the Lakers turned the ball over twice and it directly led to the Thunder comeback.

    This isn't only limited to the last two minutes of the game, though. The Lakers must control the ball and their possessions thoroughly, so that the Thunder don't get easy fast-break points and attain momentum.


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    This may be the most difficult one.

    The Los Angeles Lakers have to completely forget what happened during the last two minutes of Wednesday night's game. 

    It was a type of loss that could linger with the team and make the team lose confidence. However, instead of letting the loss get to them, they need to look at all the positives from the game and build on it for Games 3 and 4 and the rest of the series.

    They have the ability to come back and win this series. They showed this during most of Game 2. They just need to learn how to finish, which has constantly been a problem for the team throughout the season.

    That said, the talent and game plan is there. They now go back to Staples Center, and they must have the confidence and belief in themselves that they can stick to Wednesday night's game plan in order to even up the series.  


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