It sounds as if the Lakers are getting a little tired of hearing about all of the heroism going on in Philadelphia.
Coach Phil Jackson declined to discuss any Laker injuries Sunday, but not because he wanted to keep them a secret. He had a point to make.
"Well," Jackson said, "we don't like to talk about our nicks and bruises particularly, because if you can play, you're OK. That's kind of the standard of operation. It's obvious at this time of the season if a guy doesn't have aches and pains from top to bottom, he really hasn't been playing the kind of intensity that we like to see him play."
Guard Kobe Bryant was more direct: "I don't care how big your heart is. I don't care what your problems are. We just want to beat you."
Said forward Rick Fox: "I'd like to find someone who questions our heart. You don't get this far without heart. Theirs have been well-documented. We just don't talk about ours."
And guard Tyronn Lue: "We have heart too. We just don't go out and boast and brag about how much heart we've got. We just go out and play and you've seen our heart."
Still, Jackson said he'd allow the 76ers their view of themselves.
"It's just natural," he said. "It's an underdog role. It's a good type of position to put themselves in, I think. But, we're not buying any of it. We believe that any team that's here is going to have to work hard. I've never seen a series that both teams don't play hard and furious basketball. It's a gritty team, obviously, because of their speed and quickness to the ball, and we have to honor that. That's one of the reasons why they're able to . . . stay in games."
In the most difficult venues in the NBA, in the most trying time of year, the Lakers are 6-0.
To break it down, that's 1-0 in Portland, 2-0 in Sacramento, 2-0 in San Antonio and 1-0 in Philadelphia, all in the postseason, all with raucous fans hanging over their shoulders, occasionally with cowbells clanking off their ear drums. On Sunday night, it was a rubber ball bounding into their fourth-quarter huddle.
"It's no easy achievement," Lue said.
Robert Horry stuck his finger through a hole in his white sock before Game 3, and shouted for another pair. An equipment man arrived and flipped the socks and a black felt marker at Horry.
NBA socks are standard, white or black, with the league logo on the inside and outside ankles. Horry, though, colors the man--Jerry West--on the logo, so he can distinguish his game socks from his practice socks.
"It's just so I know," he said, smiling. "It's not a Black Power thing."
With 30 points Sunday night, Shaquille O'Neal has a postseason total of 424, bringing his career playoff total to 2,893 points. In this postseason, O'Neal has surpassed the career totals of Bill Russell (2,673), Patrick Ewing (2,787), Robert Parish (2,820) and Charles Barkley (2,833), all of whom played in more postseason games than O'Neal.