It wasn't supposed to be this way for the fans of the Philadelphia 76ers. Four days ago, their team was expected to take control of the series by riding the energy of their First Union Center crowd.
But thanks to the Lakers' strong play, the best enjoyment the 76ers' fans had Wednesday was booing a member of the group Destiny's Child because she wore a Laker jersey during their halftime performance.
"I don't think the Lakers were ever rattled," guard Aaron McKie said. "They jump out on us so fast. We dig a deep hole for ourselves. We always find ourselves in the situation where you've got to fight back so long, and so hard that it takes so much out of you at the end of the game."
George Lynch returned after breaking his foot, but he didn't have an impact, playing eight minutes with no points.
"My foot felt fine," said Lynch, who did grab two rebounds and had two steals. "I think once I got going, it pretty much didn't bother me, but when I came to a stop or sat down on the bench, it started to tighten up on me. It was just good to be out there, and I just wish I could have done more to help the team."
For the first time in the Finals, power forward Tyrone Hill was a factor against the Lakers. He played 21 minutes, scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds.
It was one of his better rebounding games of the playoffs and he said part of the problem has been adjusting to center Dikembe Mutombo, who was acquired in a trade from Atlanta at midseason.
"As good a rebounder as I am, I could be a lot better," said Hill, whose father has returned home after suffering two strokes over the last couple of months. "Dikembe is a rebounder who stays in the paint. He gets a lot of his rebounds because he is right underneath the basket.
"For me, I have to go out and guard players on the perimeter. That's hard because you burn so much energy and you can't always get position playing outside the paint. But that's something I have had to adjust to."
Second-year forward Jumaine Jones had a horrible game. He started, played 11 minutes and missed all three shots.
Including Game 4, Jones has attempted only 10 shots and made four. It's definitely a new role for him considering that Jones averaged 15 points in college and over 30 as a high school senior in Georgia.
"I shot all the shots in high school and I loved it," Jones said. "I shot less in college than I did in high school, but in college I got a lot more attempts than I do now. It seems like at each level, I take less shots.
"I have to say that it has been a difficult transition [from college to the NBA]. To go from being a star to not being able to get a shot on this team."
"It's difficult to defend them because you have to always worry about Shaq and Kobe, and they are two of the best players in the game," Jones said. "If they are on the same side of the floor, you have to make a decision. You don't want to leave either one of those guys. That's why it is so tough."