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Lakers have many areas they want to sharpen in Game 6 against Phoenix

Once the buzzer sounded and the Lakers' 103-101 Game 5 Western Conference finals victory over the Phoenix Suns became official, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson immediately walked off the court. 

He surely appreciated the entertainment value the game provided: Phoenix slashed an 18-point lead. The Suns tied the score off Jason Richardson's banked-in three-pointer with 3.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. And Lakers forward Ron Artest redeemed himself from an ill-advised three-pointer with 22 seconds on the shot clock in the final minute with a put-back basket off Kobe Bryant's missed shots as time expired. But that's the exact reason why he headed toward the entrance tunnel, so he'd keep his coaching mind-set rather than getting awash with all the emotions.

"I don't want to get too involved in it," said Jackson, though he admitted staying up until 1 a.m. to watch a replay of the game.

The Lakers have every reason to feel confident heading into Game 6 tonight, what with the energy wave from the Game 5 finish, the potential clinching of an NBA Finals matchup with Boston and the knowledge that they've won eight of their last nine closeout games. There's plenty of reasons, however, why the Lakers feel they're required to put together a better performance in Game 6. In the Lakers' Game 5 victory, they allowed six Suns to score in double figures, let the 18-point lead evaporate and made a few late-game gaffes, including allowing Richardson to tie the score at 101-101 with 3.5 seconds remaining after the Suns shot three consecutive three-pointers and grabbed two offensive rebounds. And, of course, there's Steve Nash's guarantee that the Suns will force a seventh game.

Jackson didn't take much offense to the comment as much as, say, Artest, but the coach shot back: "What else is he going to say? We're going to go home and lose?"

I noted in detail how the Lakers have managed a strong record in closing out games in the 2009 and 2010 postseason. And when I asked if Jackson noticed a specific pattern in those performances, he cited the team's defensive intensity, low turnovers and low amount of three-point shots, a formula Jackson wants the Lakers to duplicate.

"We don't plan on going to Phoenix and lose three times on their home court. That's something we're not making this trip on there just to fill a date. We're going there to win a game. We're highly motivated for this game. But we understand that if it has to go seven, we're damn well ready to go back home and defend our court."

Improve defense

Phoenix's ability to answer in Games 3 and 4 correlated to the Lakers letting down their guard on defense. The Lakers allowed 116.5 points a contest in those losses, far from the 106.7 points they allowed at home.

This series hasn't produced much defensively, but consider the Lakers' discrepancy between home and road performances in the following categories in free-throw attempts (30, 37) and Amare Stoudemire's production: 19.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in L.A. compared to 31.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in Phoenix.

Establish inside game 

Although Jackson has downplayed the Lakers' struggles against Phoenix's zone defense, he conceded it's been more difficult for the Lakers to produce inside. In Games 3 and 4, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom appeared more tentative establishing post position. Likewise, the Lakers' backcourt remained reluctant to look inside, resulting in an average of 29 three-point shots and a wide discrepancy in points in the paint in the home and away games (48.7, 43).

Limit turnovers

The Lakers might have only committed 10 turnovers in Game 5, but Phoenix scored 23 points off them. It spoke to the Suns' ability to knock down three-point shots as well as their tendency to exploit mistakes. Meanwhile, the Lakers committed 17 turnovers in Game 3, a factor Lakers guard Derek Fisher argued served as "key momentum shifters when we had the leads."

--Mark Medina

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Comments () | Archives (18)

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I really hope the Lakers win. A game 7 would be way too stressful.


Thanks for the Roll Call. Stressed out. We need to show NO MERCY. Go Lakers!

NO MERCY...But shake hands after we destroy them! lol

will this game start already? i'm with you guys. if this goes to seven games, i'm gonna have to find some medicinal substance to get me to monday. On the other hand, maybe that should happen anyway, cause it's gonna be even longer until game 1. oh well.

watching the replay from game 5 again, and looking at the pictures, the part I keep going back to is the crowd. Pure celebration. There are guys in $ million whatever courtside seats screaming their lungs out and doing fist pumps. Beautiful, baby.

and.....charles barkley just gave phoenix the kiss of death.

Hi Larry,

So comforting to know you are around early for the game day blog. It is always a pleasure when you do the roll call. It is like the trumpets when the battle is set to start. I FIRMLY BELIEVE WE WILL FINISH THE SUNS TONIGHT!


Posted by: Lakergurl | May 29, 2010 at 05:10 PM


Thanks for the needed game day roll call Mamba. Let's get this Win tonight.


Hey J24! One win coming up mam!

@The One and Only LAKERGURL, Thank you my dear. Seeing a post from you always brings an extra burts of confidence that the Team will win. You know you are their Good Luck Charm!

Hey Rick, Troy! Your stress will be gone after the 1st qt. I GUARANTEE this will be a blowout!...I HOPE. lol!

The crazy thing about this postseason is how the Suns have now established themselves as the number 2 team in the western conferene. Better than the Spurs, the Mavs, the Jazz, the Nuggets, the Blazers, all of them. Quite amazing.


There are guys in $ million whatever courtside seats screaming their lungs out and doing fist pumps. Beautiful, baby. Posted by: phred | May 29, 2010 at 05:10 PM
Big Deal! There will be a guy here in a purple and gold thong screaming his lungs out! Lol!

The WCF trophy will be there!
C'mon guys, let's grab it!!!!!

JustAnotherMambaFan, if The Lakers win...WILL YOU MARRY ME? lol!

Odom is so sorry and scared , if he is on this team next year my head will explode

Odom will fold in the Finals , mark my words .
I hope somebody else will step up and play physical.
May be Mbenga.
Odom is a loser , will never deliver in the moment we need him the most.

Needlessly close thanks to Sasha but hopefully he'll make it up by annoying Rondo so much in the Finals, Rondo punches him in the face and gets ejected. Or something like that.


owner Jerry Buss and family should have lawsuit protection with City of Los Angeles against Govenor Shwaggner from interference with games by tickets, boxes, and authority based upon State of California. Shwaggner familly married Kennedy family Shriver Foundation/ Special Olympics/ Special Education from interference in games. Buss should have LAPD review all seat sales to determine , if risk to players, family, or team. Hollywood Stars should be reviewed to players concerning affect on game. Boston/Govenor of California/Hollywood Stars will try to take over control from NBA, City of Los Angeles, and Laker's to help Boston. Jerry Buss should consult with former mayor's Hahn and Park's to see plan to protect against these problems. Officials should be instructed to call time out by officials on any questional call to check instant replay to make sure proper call is reviewed, enforced, and team of experts by NBA/Commissioner Stern to decide any call in question. When, Mayor Hahn was mayor LA won three championships.
Security should include terrorism based upon seventh game in Los Angeles.
Security should be done by professionals, not security company personnel.
Teams should have security forces outside locker rooms and medical personnel should be instructed about security issues. All media on court should be removed to ensure safety of teams and players. Donald Blaskovich, cell 951-837-7043. Olympic type operations should be in place for play-offs.



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