Lakers face a nearly impossible task, but Coach Phil Jackson doesn’t want them to think about it
Reporting from Dallas
The Lakers face overwhelming odds that no NBA playoff team has overcome.
They trail the Dallas Mavericks, three games to none, in the Western Conference semifinals, with Game 4 at American Airlines Center on Sunday.
They had chances to win Games 1 and 3 but failed to execute in the clutch, with their defense frequently looking discombobulated.
No NBA team has won a playoff series it trailed 3-0, and with history going against it, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson was asked how his team can fight feelings of resignation.
“With a flyswatter,” Jackson quipped, a smile on his face. “I had to think of that. That’s so ridiculous a question. It doesn’t come to me naturally to think that way.”
This is the first Jackson-coached team to lose the first three games in a series. It is the seventh time the Lakers have trailed 3-0.
“I told them not to think about that,” Jackson said. “You’re thinking about winning [Sunday’s] game [and] forcing another game in L.A. on Tuesday. That’s all you’re thinking about, just going out playing this game, playing every play, playing each quarter to win the quarter. It’s just in-the-moment type of activity.”
With the Lakers’ bid for a third consecutive championship on the verge of expiring, Kobe Bryant said he remained “very confident” that they will win Game 4.
Asked how he can make sure the rest of the team shares his confidence, Bryant said, “I’m going to keep this train moving. So they are either going to be on it or in front of it. The train is going to keep moving.”
Jackson, who plans to retire when the season ends, may not be sentimental about this possibly being his last game coaching the Lakers.
But his five kids are, which Jackson said has made it “very hard.”
“Now they think they have to hustle in [to Dallas] because they think this is the last game I’ll coach,” Jackson said. “That’s a drag I don’t need to have happen. But they are coming anyway because they insisted upon it.”
The issue of Pau Gasol’s subpar play in the playoffs took on a different tone when he and Bryant were asked about a rumor that the two are having problems.
A reporter took out his cellphone and showed Bryant an Internet report that said his wife, Vanessa, had been the cause of Gasol’s breakup with his girlfriend, that Gasol blamed Bryant for it and that the two weren’t speaking.
Bryant said that there is no discord between him and Gasol and that he knew nothing about the report involving his wife and Gasol’s former girlfriend.
“They barely know each other,” Bryant said.
Gasol is averaging only 13.4 points and 7.8 rebounds in the playoffs.
He acknowledged before practice Saturday that stories about his personal life are “affecting people very close to me.”
“And to me it’s sad, because if there was any truth to it, you deal with it,” Gasol said. “But when they lie and make up stories, it’s not pleasant because I don’t think they help at any level.”
Jackson complained about the officiating regarding Gasol, saying the Mavericks are using their knees to root him out of low-post position.
Jackson said that should be a foul.
“We didn’t complain about it against New Orleans, but the Mavs are doing the same damned thing and until the league goes back to the rules they have about post play, Pau’s got to move out and face the basket,” Jackson said.
Ron Artest, who missed Game 3 while serving a one-game suspension for elbowing Jose Barea in Game 2, was back at practice Saturday and will play Sunday.
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