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Here’s the story I just wrote on Thursday’s Game 4 collapse, and how exactly the Lakers will be trying to regroup and get ready for Sunday’s Game 5.
By Ramona Shelburne
What exactly happened inside Staples Center Thursday night?
How exactly did the Lakers go from being in it, really in it, tied up with the Celtics 2-2 in this best-of-7 series with a chance to take a 3-2 lead on their home court on Sunday, to … um…Wow…
An hour had passed before Kobe Bryant offered his public thoughts on the Lakers epic collapse in Game 4 of the NBA Finals and all he could come up with was an invitation to drink … as if Lakers fans all around the Southland hadn’t already gone there.
“A lot of wine, a lot of beer, a couple of shots, maybe like 20 of them,” Bryant said. “Digest it, then get back to work tomorrow.”
But how exactly do you do that?
Put the biggest collapse in Finals history -at least as far back as there are records for that sort of thing – behind you, watch the film, get back to practice and give it a go again on Sunday like nothing happened?
This isn’t the regular season. This isn’t Game 1 or Game 2, or even Game 3. This was Game 4, the game where the home team gets to make it a series or starts making plans for summer vacation. The Lakers had it. It was going to be a series, and then, just…Wow.
“Right now, I think it’s normal for everybody to be a little disappointed, a little pissed off,” Bryant said. “It’s human nature. But tomorrow, you’ve got to get back to work tomorrow.”
Getting back to work, for the Lakers, means figuring out how to beat Boston three times in a row, two of which, will take place on the Celtics home court.
“We can’t think about beating them three straight,” Bryant said. “We’re thinking about beating them Sunday. Take one swing at a time to chop down a tree.”
Uh-huh. That’s one mighty large tree that’s sprung up in front of them though.
“As a player, you can run through a brick wall, you make things that normal people think can’t happen, happen in your favor. But the reality is, there’s no coming back from this,” said former NBA player Jalen Rose, who helped analyze the game for ESPN. “Boston’s not losing three in a row. It’s not going to happen.”
Then again, who would’ve thought the Celtics would’ve come back from a 24-point deficit to win Game 4?
So how did they do it?
“We said, coming out of the third quarter that regardless of what the score is, we’re not going to look at the score,” Celtics captain Paul Pierce said. “We’re just going to go out there and compete.”
Well, that’s a start. And the fact that Boston’s injury list has basically doubled in every game, doesn’t hurt either. If the Lakers can win Sunday and send the series back to Boston, those injuries could catch up with the Celtics.
But those are a lot of ifs, of course. And they come on the heels of an incredibly big, um …Wow.
So for a night at least, the best course of action was just to let it all sit in their stomachs like that greasy hamburger you shouldn’t have eaten at 2 a.m., shake their heads, forget about finding any answers, and find a way to get some sleep.
“We just wet the bed,” Bryant said. “A nice big one too. One of the ones you can’t put a towel over. It was terrible. But there’s nothing you can do about it. They played great in the third quarter, we played like crap. They pulled out a great win, now it’s time to move on to the next one…period.”