Lakers have a faint pulse

This just in:

Laker Chances Go From Non-Existent to Minimal!

With the media employing the usual sophisticated analytical tools . . . like numerology . . . the Lakers, who had no chance going into Sunday night’s Game 5 -- since no team has ever come from 3-1 down in the NBA Finals -- were heartened to find they’re now up to 18%!

Yes, five of the 28 teams that have trailed 3-2 actually came back to win.

Of course, two of those five were Celtics teams against the Lakers in 1962 and 1969.

At this point, the Lakers will take any reason to believe, such as the one Coach Phil Jackson threw out before the game:

“We’re young enough and dumb enough to do this.”

Sunday night’s Game 5 was a gut check and, after the Lakers’ gag job in Game 4, they survived this one.


The Celtics, who had come from 24 points behind to win Game 4, wiped out a 19-point first-half deficit Sunday night and a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter before the Lakers finally put them away, 103-98.

Now they’re going back to Boston for Game 6 and, if necessary, 7, which is all the Celtics can ask for.

On the other hand, the Lakers have some things going for them . . . they hope.

With the teams obliged to change coasts while playing two games in three nights, the Lakers have the younger, deeper team.

“It’s a terrible turnaround,” Boston Coach Doc Rivers said. “Nothing you can do about it. . . .

“Both teams have the same issue so, you know, it comes down to a game of mental toughness, who fights the fatigue mentally better than the other group.”

With Kobe Bryant playing off 22-year-old, non-shooting Boston point guard Rajon Rondo and jamming up the middle, the Celtics can barely run an offense with the first team.

Between games, Rivers said Bryant may be the best help defender he has seen since Scottie Pippen.

Of course, Rivers was also hoping Rondo would take up a little more of Bryant’s time but Sunday night he scored only three points and missed six of seven shots.

Rondo played only 14 minutes. Rivers went the rest of the way with chunky Eddie House and 38-year-old Sam Cassell, just to keep someone out there the Lakers had to guard.

“Well, Rondo is not playing well right now,” said Rivers. “We still believe in him. . . .

“You know what? He’s a second-year basketball player and I never lose sight of that. There’s a lot of pressure on him and I’m not going to put more on him.

“I’m just going to keep coaching him and trusting him and he got us here.”

In other words, it’s still a problem.

The willowy Lakers big men, Pau Gasol (19 points, 13 rebounds) and Lamar Odom (20-11), made major turnarounds.

Meanwhile, perhaps not coincidentally, the Celtics were without their bruising center, Kendrick Perkins, who has a shoulder injury.

While waiting to see if he gets Perkins back, Rivers would like to see the other Celtics big men, Kevin Garnett and P.J. Brown, who are as willowy as Gasol and Odom, turn it up.

“They [Lakers] posted when they wanted to post,” Rivers said. “They caught the ball in the spots they wanted to catch the ball in.”

For better or worse, the Lakers had to sit around for two days since their Game 4 nightmare, which either gave them more time to get over it or more time to think about it.

Not that the press was out of questions, but Saturday Jackson was asked if there was “something positive about sort of saying we had a historic collapse in Game 4 but now we have a chance of making history?”


On the other hand, Jackson would just as soon have had the 3-1 lead and let Rivers tell his players that to fire them up.

Nevertheless, where there’s life there’s hope, theoretically.

Of those five teams who came from 3-2 behind in the Finals, one of them even did it on the road.

Of course, it was 1955 when the Syracuse Nationals went into Fort Wayne, Ind., and beat the Pistons twice.

Rallying cry for the Lakers in Game 6:

Remember the Nats!

That’s just as soon as they find out who the Nats were in the first place.