|For Lakers: Looks can be deceiving||06.14.10 at 2:28 pm ET|
It was a fascinating study in the way a team handles pressure and accepts defeat on Sunday night at TD Garden.
Late in the fourth quarter, with the Celtics protecting their five-point lead in the final minute, Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce went for a missed shot in the lane. Bryant appeared to have the angle on the ball before Pierce came in like a hawk and grabbed right away.
Bryant then threw up both arms in frustration and then Pierce was fouled with the ball and the Lakers superstar began shaking his head in disgust and disbelief.
The sense of a chance getting away from the Lakers was written all over the ultra-competitive star’s face.
“They just got to every ball,” Bryant said. “Again, they played with more tenacity than we did in that stretch, and we have to do a much better job Game 6. we’re knocking at the door there a couple times and just couldn’t get through.
“Again tonight they got all the hustle points in terms of loose balls and offensive rebounds down the stretch. We didn’t convert.”
Then there’s Lamar Odom, the calm, cool, collected and still cocky Laker forward. After his team failed to take advantage of a legendary third-quarter performance by Kobe Bryant on Sunday night, Odom was asked why he seemed so confident heading back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Tuesday.
“We love playing in the Staples,” Odom said of L.A.’s home court. “We know we can win on the road but it’s our turn to go back home.”
But with the Celtics just needing to repeat once what they did in Game 2 on the same court, don’t the Celtics have the advantage since L.A. needs two wins?
“That’s tough to say,” Odom said. “That’s a great question. That’s tough to say but I think the home team always has the advantage and the energy switches a little bit, helps you, laying in your own bed.
“We’ll respond. Our energy is still up as a team. Our confidence is still there. The series is not over.” Odom said.
Bryant summed up what’s in front of these Lakers if they want to avoid the same feeling they had two years ago against the Celtics.
“We have a challenge obviously down 3-2,” Bryant said. “We let a couple opportunities slip away. But it is what it is. Now you go home, you’ve got two games at home that you need to win, and you pull your boots up and get to work.”
Then Kobe was asked if he were still confident the Lakers can beat their arch-rival twice in three nights.
“I’m not very confident at all,” Bryant said with a sincere laugh.
Sarcasm might be the only trait Bryant, Odom and the Lakers share right now when it comes to playing the Celtics.
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