As the Lakers began their second round playoff series, I wondered what we’re going to see.
The first round scare against Oklahoma City coupled with the Lakers’ shoddy play in the final weeks of the regular season suggest the struggles will continue.
If the Thunder, the No. 8 seed, could give the Lakers such a battle it’s possible every playoff opponent will have a chance.
My thoughts didn’t change Sunday when the Lakers had to scramble from a four-point deficit in the fourth quarter to seek out a victory over the Utah Jazz at Staples Center.
Championships can be won this way, but it’s not the recommended way to go. I remember one year when the Lakers won three series that went seven games. I also remember Laker teams that were dominant.
On Sunday, when the game was tied in the 90s, the Jazz scored four straight times. On each occasion the Lakers scored to catch up and ultimately regain the lead. Kobe Bryant would score or Pau Gasol would follow in a miss.
These are great players, but I think the Lakers are living dangerously if they need such heroics down the stretch game after game. Remember that Gasol scored with half a second left to end the first round series.
As I was leaving Staples Center Sunday a fan recognized me and asked if Coach Phil Jackson kept his starters out too long when the reserves were having trouble scoring.
My reply was that a man with Jackson’s championships knows more than you or I about how to manage his players.
A fan reacts to the game he’s seeing. It may be one of the few he attends. Jackson sees the overall picture. He knows the playoffs last nearly two months and he’ll need the second unit guys. He also would like to reduce Bryant’s minutes and Andrew Bynum’s minutes due to their injuries.
My suggestion to fans is to enjoy and learn from the coaching of Jackson and Jerry Sloan in this series. They’re two of the best of all time.
I’ve been to Utah many times and covered quite a few Laker defeats. Sloan is a master and it doesn’t matter if his key players are injured, he has a disciplined system that overcomes problems.
The Lakers’ offense was impressive but they couldn’t stop the Jazz from scoring off set plays. That should worry anyone rooting for the Lakers.
Mirror Sports Editor[email protected]