NBA Finals notebook

Phil Jackson not worried about Lakers being down 3-2 to Celtics

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

BOSTON -- Los Angeles Lakers Coach Phil Jackson took his team's Game 5 loss in stride, showing the same calm that he does during difficult stretches of games, sitting in his cushioned seat on the bench, refusing to call a timeout.

"If you look at it, they've come home and carried the 3-2 lead back," Jackson said. "It's basically home court, home court. Now, we're going to home court to win it. That's the way it's supposed to be, isn't it?"

Since the NBA went to the 2-3-2 format in 1985, the team with home-court advantage has returned home trailing 3-2 six previous times. Only twice has a team won the final two games at home to claim the championship -- the 1988 Lakers beat Detroit and the 1994 Houston Rockets defeated the New York Knicks.

Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers was a member of the Knicks team that failed to close out the Rockets. He said he spoke recently with former teammate John Starks about that collapse. "You know that's a bitter memory, obviously, for me," Rivers said. "I was injured, sitting on the bench. So it just felt like you couldn't help individually. You know, as a team, we had a lot of great opportunities in that series, in Game 6 and 7, if you remember. It just didn't happen.

"For me, obviously, it was a learning experience, but I can't use that experience for the players on this team. Half of them are too young to remember, and half of them probably don't care."

The Lakers haven't trailed in a playoff series since the Western Conference semifinals last season, when they lost the opening game before beating Houston in seven games. Neither Jackson nor Kobe Bryant has ever faced a Game 7 in the NBA Finals, but would need to force one against the Celtics in order to win.

Bryant hasn't fared well in elimination games in the NBA Finals, averaging 23.6 points on 34.4 percent (22 for 64) shooting and going 1-2 against Detroit and Boston in 2004 and the Celtics in 2008. But he said he doesn't have to say anything to his teammates to explain the situation. "If I have to say something to them, we don't deserve to be champions," Bryant said. "You've got two games at home that you need to win. You pull your boots up and get to work."

Jackson sounded confident about his team's chances in Game 6. "We're upbeat going into this game," he said.

Rough Rondo?

Game 5 became a little testy in the second period, when Kevin Garnett came charging toward the basket and Ron Artest shoved Garnett to the ground. Point guard Rajon Rondo took exception to Artest's unnecessary roughness and pushed Artest with his left hand. The 260-pound Artest stumbled backward and nearly fell down as Rondo shouted at him and collected a technical foul.

Rondo joked afterward that Artest's time in Hollywood has helped improve his acting skills. "I'm not that strong," said Rondo, who weighs 171 pounds. "He's probably the strongest guy on the court this series. I've been hitting the weight room a little bit, but other than that, I didn't push him that hard."

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