The Lakers have been living dangerously in these NBA playoffs.On paper, they had accomplished what was required in both the previous series against Houston and the current one against Denver — winning a game on the road after losing one at home to get the series back on track. The teams were tied, 2-2 entering Wednesday’s Game Five.Due to newspaper deadlines, that game hadn’t been played when this piece was written. But the trend was reason for Laker fans to be concerned.In both series the Lakers came out strong in the third game and quickly took care of business, preventing any possibility they’d lose both road games and go down, three games to one.But in both series they lost convincingly in the fourth game. That’s not the way to establish you’re the dominant team.The Houston series went the full seven games. It remains to be seen if this one will, but the losses take a toll, requiring more games and more opportunities for an underdog opponent to gain confidence.I was disappointed in the Lakers’ lack of intensity Monday night in the fourth game. The Nuggets were far more aggressive. They played with passion and humiliated the Lakers with their rebounding and effort to collect loose balls.Before the game, Phil Jackson’s locker room speech to the players was shared with the national television audience. The coach sensed the reality the Nuggets would play like a desperate team. He urged the Lakers to win this game, not rely on waiting for their next home game.But the intensity wasn’t there, and that was a big letdown.It may be that the Lakers will make the most of having the fifth and seventh games at home, but only if several players upgrade their performances.Derek Fisher is showing his age. Like Walton tries hard but isn’t solving the problem of who matches up with Carmelo Anthony. Andrew Bynum lost two seasons of development due to injuries and isn’t close to being the dominant center the Lakers expect him to become.As of this writing I think any of the four remaining teams in the playoffs could win the championship. Denver has stood up to the favored Lakers and Orlando has stood up to the favored Cleveland Cavaliers.You’d think the biggest stars — Kobe Bryant and LeBron James — would pull their teams through. But it’s far from a cinch.The biggest winner so far has been the fans. Most games in this round have been outstanding. Is the best yet to come? Perhaps.
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