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Category: Jordan Farmar

Poll questions surrounding the Lakers' off-season

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There's no such thing as an NBA off-season, especially when the Lakers' title run immediately follows with a championship parade in downtown L.A., exit interviews, the NBA draft and soon enough, free agency. The Lakers' likely won't produce another memorable off-season, such as Kobe Bryant's radio tour or Lamar Odom's prolonged negotiations. And it likely won't catch the nation's attention, as say, where LeBron James ends up. Still, there are plenty of things the team must deal with once free agency begins Thursday.

The first order of business involves Coach Phil Jackson, who said during his exit interview that he's leaning toward retirement, a sentiment he reiterated in Montana on Sunday after giving the keynote speech at the Western Governors' Assn. annual meeting. Still, he's not expected to officially make a decision until later in the week after he receives results from the medical tests he took last week that caused him to miss the championship parade. 

Although the Lakers' core -- Bryant, Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest -- are locked into long-term deals, they have several free-agents, including guard Derek Fisher. It appears the team unanimously wants Fisher back. Lakers guard Shannon Brown recently opted out of his contract, though the Lakers own his "early-bird" rights. Guard Jordan Farmar made it abundantly clear he wants out of L.A. And if it were up to D.J. Mbenga, Adam Morrison and Josh Powell, they'd remain Lakers, though The Times' Broderick Turner recently talked to an NBA executive who said the team doesn't plan to keep any of those three players. There's the interesting revelation, as reported by The Times' Mark Heisler, that said the Lakers are considering dumping Odom's salary a season after re-signing him to a four-year deal worth $34 million with a player option in the final season. And there's the contention from General Manager Mitch Kupchak that the team's most urgent need involves the backcourt.

The Lakers will answer at least some of these questions this week, but in the meantime, it's best to hear what fans of the L.A. Times' Lakers blog think will happen. After all, they live and breathe this team. And they'll be the first to attest that there is no such thing as a Lakers' off-season. Based on the poll results below, I'll then follow up with an analysis piece assessing how Lakers fans think everything will transpire once free agency begins.

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Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown approaching free agency with differing attitudes

Lakers guard Jordan Farmar sat upstairs in the Lakers' practice facility, outlining in detail to Coach Phil Jackson and General Manager Mitch Kupchak his view that his role hasn't changed in the last four seasons.

"That was kind of the plan going into every year, which was getting a little more and a little more and it's kind of stayed the same," Farmar said. "For me, that's been tough."

Guard Shannon Brown sat in the same office, agreeing with Jackson and Kupchak that his main goal should entail marked improvement.

"They feel I made progress with the things I have done," Brown said. "It's all about getting better."

Brown pointed to his short shelf life with four teams in his first four seasons as a possibility why he'd prefer staying with the Lakers.

"I would definitely love to come back here," he said.

Farmar pointed to his L.A.-centric basketball career, which has included playing for Taft High School, UCLA and the Lakers, as a reason he'd leave his hometown.

"I think it's good for somebody to get away sometimes," he said. 

Farmar shook hands with reporters after his exit interview Monday, forewarning that this may be the last time he'd see us. Brown shook hands with reporters after his session, hoping this wouldn't be a goodbye.

Both players face uncertainty regarding their future with the Lakers.

"They haven't really discussed or decided much about what the situation is going to be next year," said Farmar, who earned $1.9 million last season and will become a restricted free agent July 1. The Lakers can match any offer he receives.

"I'm still thinking about it," said Brown, who can opt out of his contract.

Both acknowledged that they would prefer a more significant role than the ones they had in the 2009-10 season.

"For my career," Farmar said, "I need to establish myself as somebody who can lead a team and play big minutes and be a lead guard."

Added Brown,"You don't want to go nowhere and just sit on the bench."

And both players are rather close. They leaned on each other during uncertain moments of playing time and they even capped their exit interviews with an appearance together Tuesday night at Playhouse Hollywood.

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Audio of Jordan Farmar's exit interview

Among the highlights of Jordan Farmar's exit interviews.

--What it's been like winning two championships in his hometown

--His desire to play more minutes as a starter and his feeling that his role hasn't increased in the last four seasons

--His admission that it'd be nice to play away from his hometown

--His contention that he remains undecided about staying with the Lakers once he becomes a free agent on July 1, though his feelings make it pretty clear he's likely not resigning with the team.

Jordan Farmar exit interview

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Lakers' Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum, Jordan Farmar, Shannon Brown and Luke Walton discuss 89-67 Game 6 victory over Boston Celtics

Lakers forward Ron Artest

Lakers forward Lamar Odom

Lakers center Andrew Bynum

Lakers guard Jordan Farmar

Lakers guard Shannon Brown

Lakers forward Luke Walton

I don't want to give the reason away, but this is a must-watch video.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Lakers' attitude and effort spurred 89-67 Game 6 victory over Boston Celtics

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Hours leading into what could've become an elimination game, the Lakers visualized the outcome going in their favor. The team's morning shootaround included a meditation session, an approach Coach Phil Jackson typically uses to help calm his player's nerves, increase their spirituality and anticipate the challenges ahead.

The Lakers firmly believed they could win out heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Boston because of their talent level, experience, home-court advantage and levelheaded demeanor that's been constant through the wins and losses. So even if the team immediately kept that mindset following its Game 5 loss to the Celtics, the meditation session at least ensured the Lakers' attitude stayed intact. Hours later, the Lakers' 89-67 Game 6 victory Tuesday over Boston ensured the series to last seven games, a length not even Jackson experienced during his storied Finals experience. Fortunately for the Lakers, they already saw it coming.

"You just visualize yourself winning the game and doing what you have to do," center Andrew Bynum said. "That'll pay off for us in the future because you've visually been there before. Once you're in it, you can see yourself playing well."

That included essentially all the areas the Lakers struggled with in their Game 5 loss. The Lakers' offense featured someone beyond Kobe Bryant, who scored a team-leading 26 points on nine-of-19 shooting with 11 rebounds. It's a pale effort when you look at his 38-point effort in Game 5 and his 23-point explosion. But the offense sure looks better when it also features contributions from Pau Gasol (17 points and 13 rebounds), Ron Artest (15 points on six-of-11 shooting) and a reserve unit that that outscored Boston's bench, 25-13. Even if Bryant justifiably took over Game 5 while he had little support around him, a well-oiled offensive machine proves more effective.

The Lakers' improvements went beyond the offense. After allowing Boston to shoot 55% from the field in Game 5, the Lakers held the Celtics to 33.3% with all but Ray Allen (19 points on seven-of-14 shooting) going below .500. After staying even on the glass, the Lakers dominated on the rebounding effort, 52-39. After the Celtics beat them on loose balls and hustle plays, the Lakers essentially put on a role reversal.

Not everything went according to plan. With just 1:42 into the third quarter, Jackson recalled, Bynum motioned to him on the sideline, saying, "You've got to take me out. I can't run." Jackson later learned Bynum experienced more swelling in the back of his leg near the torn cartilage of his right knee. Bynum went to the locker room, did what he called "a couple activation things" and returned to the bench, though he wouldn't play the rest of the game.

"Precautionary measure," said Bynum, who finished with only two points on one-of-four shooting and four rebounds in 15 minutes and 53 seconds. "Save for Game 7. We're going to be ready for it."

But unlike previous games, the Lakers proved they could absorb Bynum's limitation, something they may afford in Game 7 considering Celtics center Kendrick Perkins will be reevaluated Wednesday after spraining his right knee and being helped off the court with 5:30 remaining in the first quarter.

"I'm sure it had a big effect in the ballgame," Jackson said. "But I think our energy was good enough that it was not a matter of who wasn't there. It was about what we were going to do. We were trying to determine our own fate tonight."

The reasons for the sudden shift in effort went without saying: The Lakers were on the verge of conceding a championship to Boston for the second time in three seasons, letting go of a second consecutive title and increasing the chances that the team's current makeup would no longer be intact for more title runs. But how the Lakers went about changing their execution required a mature approach in playing with more effort without leading to a tight performance.

"There's a danger, but we're used to being in must-win situations," Bryant said. "The way we look at it, it's just a game we've got to win. We've been in must-win situations before, so we have to approach it in the same way."

Those experiences include when the Lakers entered Game 5 tied 2-2 in their first-round series with Oklahoma City and their West finals match-up with Phoenix. Let's not forget Game 7 of the 2008 West semifinals against Houston, which featured plenty of emotion and pendulum swings. But the Lakers' experience proved to be just one factor in maintaining their attitude.

Jackson saw the spirits remain high after the team realized its 16 offensive rebounds and Boston's 16 turnovers kept them in Game 5 despite featuring a one-man offense and a nonexistent defense. Lamar Odom credited the team's calm attitude immediately after the Game 5 loss with preventing a dire situation from becoming worse. Artest pointed to Bryant's high expectations and Derek Fisher's speeches all season in fueling the team's confidence level. And Lakers forward Luke Walton noticed Bryant appearing relaxed and jovial, while Jackson provided little changes to the team's preparations beyond X's and O's.

"Going into game 6 or 7 and losing is a failure to us. There's nothing that needs to be said. You look around right now. There's not many people celebrating," said Walton, though he shared a laugh with reporters because the crowded locker room caused him to perspire through a new dress shirt. People are ready to get home, get some rest and get ready for Thursday."

The Lakers gave themselves a chance by holding very little back. 

Odom recorded his first double-digit in rebounds (10) along with eight points, despite playing with sinusitis. "Focus, will, just giving myself up," Odom said. Artest bounced back from a miserable Game 5 by playing within the context of the offense and allowing successful early looks to increase his confidence. "If I can help my team with a good stop, box out or physical, that's a huge part of the game." 

Jordan Farmar perfectly demonstrated the team's hustling attitude by successfully diving for a loose ball, despite wearing numerous floor burns. "I got a big blister on my hand," he said. "I got a few things, but that's how it's supposed to feel in an NBA Finals game. Game 6 and your backs are against the wall -- you're supposed to be hurting. Though Fisher picked up four early fouls, the Lakers' reserves in Sasha Vujacic (nine points) Farmar (four points) and Shannon Brown (four points) filled the void, with the latter showcasing two highlight-reel dunks. "That's what it's going to take," Brown said. That's what we lacked in the games we lost." 

And Gasol quickly rebounded from his worst Finals performance, with vintage play including hooks, mid-range jumpers and efficiency in the triangle. "You've just got to make sure you bring the kind of intensity, activity that we brought tonight and then things will go your way for the most part."

Things certainly went the Lakers' way in Game 6, an outcome the team had already visualized happening. And with Game 7 quickly approaching, the Lakers plan to maintain that approach,

"You can understand the power of prayer and people coming together and willing themselves," Odom said. "It worked for us as a team and individually."

-- Mark Medina

 twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, tries to take away the ball from Celtics forward Kevin Garnett, center, as forward Ron Artest defends during the first quarter in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Poll questions for Lakers-Celtics series

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Like an early morning shot of espresso, the Lakers-Celtics NBA Finals matchup has served as a jolt of energy for the rivalry's history, the Lakers shot at redemption for the 2008 Finals, the league offices, the media and, of course, the fans. It's going to be an anticipation-filled few days before Game 1 begins Thursday with pregame analysis, matchup assessments and I'm sure some back-and-forth exchanges between both teams.

As I've done with every series, I've liked to get the pulse of the fans and get a sense of what they're thinking about heading into the series. And whether it's the want for the Lakers to redeem their 2008 Finals loss, wondering what a fifth championship would mean for Kobe Bryant's legacy or hoping the Lakers have the physical toughness to defeat Boston this time around, there's plenty of topics Lakers fans surely have on their minds.

To process all that, below the jump is a litany of polls. Before Game 1 on Thursday, I'll follow up with an analysis to properly explain what's making you all tick heading into the Lakers-Celtics 12th Finals appearance.

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Pulse of the Fan: some poll questions on the Lakers-Suns series

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Just when we thought this series was over (at least I thought so anyway), the Suns and Lakers are now tied, 2-2, in the Western Conference Finals. I didn't feel surprised with the Suns winning Game 3. I expected the Lakers to take the series in five games. Phoenix plays better at home and the Suns would feel more desperation facing a 2-0 deficit. I did, however, feel surprised that the Lakers didn't make the proper adjustments in Game 4.

I had mentioned in a radio interview this week the importance of the Lakers taking Game 4 because of the large difference a 3-1 lead makes compared to a 2-2 tie. The Lakers would face a series-clinching Game 5 at home, would spur further doubt about the Suns' chances and would prevent the Lakers from traveling back to Phoenix for a Game 6. With Phoenix tying the series up, however, the Suns now have greater confidence they can actually compete with the Lakers, have better chances with another home game and are planting doubt among the Lakers about whether they can make the proper adjustments. Of course, we had seen this scenario play out when the Lakers and Oklahoma City were locked in a 2-2 tie, only to see the Lakers win Game 5 in dominating fashion and win Game 6 in clutch fashion.

Nonetheless, the Lakers surely don't want to be in this position, knowing that clinching the series early will give them extra days of rest before presumably facing Boston in the NBA Finals. But what do readers of the Lakers blog think? Below the jump is a wide range of poll questions that will capture the pulse of the fan. I will then follow up Thursday with an analysis piece based on the vote results.

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Lakers have no answer for Phoenix reserves in 115-106 Game 4 loss to Suns

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It had long been thought the Phoenix reserves would prove to be the X-factor against the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

They made significant contributions in the regular season and playoffs. The Lakers' bench played rather inconsistently, mixing in moments of greatness with poor performances that either cost the Lakers games or placed more responsibility on the starters to close the game out.

Yet the Lakers had maintained that edge, holding a 19-point advantage in the first two games.

Fast forward to Game 4 Tuesday and you have a completely different story. The Suns tied the series at 2-2 with a 115-106 Game 4 victory over the Lakers, largely because Phoenix's reserves outscored the Lakers' bench, 54-20. Surely, there were other elements to the Lakers' loss.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant nearly had a triple double with 38 points on 15 of 22 shooting with 10 assists and seven rebounds, an effort that seemed almost wasted considering he attempted only one shot the first quarter. The Lakers also appeared more equipped against the Suns zone compared with their Game 3 loss, but the Lakers still worked for their shots, shot nine of 28 from three-point range and allowed Phoenix to cash in on easy baskets. But the Lakers could have overcome those problems had they not allowed the Phoenix reserves to make an 18-7 fourth-quarter run to close out the victory.

Instead, the Lakers loss guarantees the series will last at least through Saturday in six games, and the NBA Finals will start June 3. The Lakers still own home-court advantage and, after Oklahoma City tied the first-round series 2-2, responded in appropriate fashion by winning two consecutive games. But Phoenix will return to Staples Center for Game 5 Thursday with more confidence than after it left last week winless through two games.

After the jump is a breakdown of how the Sun's fourth-quarter run put the game away.

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Dissecting how Phoenix's zone defense befuddled the Lakers in 118-109 Game 3 loss to Suns

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Frustrated with how Phoenix's numerous defensive adjustments in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals did little to prevent the Lakers from scoring, Suns Coach Alvin Gentry jokingly asked reporters after the game for any suggestions heading into Game 3.

The Suns ran a zone in Saturday's practice with poor execution, leading Gentry to wonder whether Phoenix should skip that defensive strategy in Game 3. Still, the Suns stuck with the plan.

The results were positive and immediate when Phoenix instituted a zone at the beginning of the second quarter. The Lakers scored only 15 points in 12 minutes. They attempted a playoff-record 32 three-pointers, making only nine of them. Lakers forward Pau Gasol shot just one field goal in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers heaved 11 three-pointers, four of them from Lakers forward Ron Artest.

Most NBA teams aren't used to playing against a zone defense, which didn't become legal until the 2001-02 season. The Lakers' discomfort with the Suns' zone defense was evident both on the stat sheet and in their on-court play. Consider the discrepancy between the Suns' defense in the first two playoff rounds compared with their first two games against the Lakers, including total points (95.9, 126), defensive field-goal percentage (45%, 58%), defensive three-point field-goal percentage (37%, 52%), points allowed in the paint (37.8, 54). Following is a breakdown of some of the Lakers' missed shots, which shows how much difficulty the team had matching up against the zone.

Second quarter, 11:31 - 11:15

The Sun's switch to a 2-3 zone may have surprised the Lakers, but they reacted on the first play the right way. One of the keys to playing against a zone involves making quick passes around the perimeter to test how quickly the defense shifts, a tactic the Lakers executed perfectly. Artest passed the ball up top to Jordan Farmar, who quickly passed to Lamar Odom on the nearside perimeter. Lakers center Andrew Bynum posted up on the near block against Phoenix forward Channing Frye, but Odom looked the other way toward Farmar at the top of the key. Since Bynum didn't get the look, he flashed toward the basket while Odom flashed across the lane and then cut out to the right block. Odom received the ball, Suns forward Louis Amundson confronted Odom and he attempted a 20-foot jumper. The shot rimmed out.

Second quarter, 10:42 - 10:37

Phoenix played in a 3-2 zone, with Amundson and Frye clogging the lane and preventing Bynum from getting good post position. With Farmar receiving a pass on the far corner, Phoenix forward Jared Dudley shifted from the top to the corner. Meanwhile, Odom remained open on the nearside since Suns guard Goran Dragic mistakenly stayed up top instead of spreading himself to cover the nearside of the court. Dragic quickly recovered, however, as Farmar pump faked and then dribbled in for a pull-up jumper. The shot hit off the side rim.

Second quarter, 9:39 - 9:33

With Farmar manning the point on the far side, Artest cut to the free-throw line and received a pass just above the stripe. Phoenix played in a 2-3 zone, with Amundson and Leandro Barbosa double teaming Artest by the right block. Artest dribbled left and pulled up for a quick jumper, despite Farmar being open on the nearside and Odom and Bynum trying to establish position in the post. Instead of settling for the quick shot, Artest could have passed the ball to Farmar to force the defense to shift and, perhaps, allow either Bynum or Odom to position themselves in the lane.

Second quarter, 9:02 - 8:52

This sequence demonstrates Phoenix's ability to play a 2-3 matchup zone perfectly. Lakers guard Shannon Brown drove to the lane, but Dragic immediately cut him off. With Phoenix spread on the floor, Brown made a quick pass to Farmar on the nearside perimeter before making another quick pass to Odom on the corner. Odom looked to make an entry pass to Gasol in the post, but both Amare Stoudemire and Dudley both marked on Gasol. So the ball got passed around the perimeter again, going from Odom to Farmar and then up top to Brown. With the shot clock down to six seconds, Brown hoisted a 26-foot three-pointer, which ultimately hit the back of the rim.

Second quarter, 4:24 - 4:18

After Odom cut through the lane to the far corner, he received a pass from Artest. Suns center Robin Lopez stopped a passive Gasol from posting in the lane, and Odom hoisted three over Stoudemire went off the back iron.

Second quarter, 3:48 - 3:38

Lopez swiped Kobe Bryant's pass to Gasol on the left block, forcing Bryant to pick up the loose ball near the time line. With only four seconds remaining on the shot clock, Bryant attempted a three-pointer, but it hit the back iron.

Third quarter, 5:57 - 5:50

After Odom passed the ball to Bryant just above the far perimeter, Bryant drove and posted up on Jason Richardson near the free-throw line. With Steve Nash helping on the double team, Bryant kicked the ball out to Odom, whose open three-pointer went off the rim. Gasol stood idly in the lane against Lopez instead of trying to post up inside.

Fourth quarter, 5:53 - 5:39

This play illustrates how quickly the Suns shifted in their 2-3 zone, while also denying Gasol space in the post. After Odom passed the ball to Artest on the far end, Grant Hill, Richardson and Nash shifted left, with Hill extended far out on the wing so he could mark Derek Fisher in the far corner. Artest quickly sent the ball back up top to Odom, and the Suns shifted immediately, with Richardson and Nash confronting Odom and Hill flashing toward Artest as Odom made another pass to him. After Odom received a pass just above the key, Richardson and Nash swarmed him, causing Odom to pass to Bryant on the nearside. Meanwhile, Gasol had trouble positioning himself against Lopez inside. Once Bryant received the ball, Stoudemire extended himself on the wing, while Nash shifted in Bryant's direction. Bryant immediately drove the lane, pump faked and weaved in for a pull-up jumper. But the shot hit the back rim.

What this means

Chalk it up, perhaps, to the fact that I went to Syracuse and greatly appreciated how well Jim Boeheim ran the 2-3 zone with his program. But I cringe when I hear the assertion that teams that play zone aren't sound defensively and use it to cover up their vulnerabilities. No doubt, the Suns made plenty of defensive adjustments in Game 2, including switching defensive matchups, double teams, zone and playing the post, all to no avail because the Lakers had too many options. But the above plays illustrate why Phoenix's zone worked in Game 3 against the Lakers: It was how active the Suns ran the set. They shifted immediately anytime the Lakers made a pass. They mostly disallowed the Lakers' front line from penetrating in the lane. And they mostly forced the Lakers to settle for quick shots, many of which didn't go in because the Lakers lacked rhythm.

Clearly, the Lakers didn't make the necessary adjustments in attacking the zone both through drives and posting up. They responded soundly by making quick passes around the perimeter to expose gaps in the Suns' zone, but that often went nowhere since Phoenix immediately shifted. The Lakers have the talent to make the necessary adjustments in Game 4. But it all comes down to execution, something the Lakers sorely lacked in Game 3.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and power forward Pau Gasol talk during a break in play against Phoenix on Sunday in Game 3. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Lakers planning to watch Celtics-Magic matchup in preparation for possible Finals appearance

As soon as the Lakers arrive in Phoenix this afternoon, everyone knows exactly where they're going to go once they land.

To a TV set.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said the coaching staff plans to watch Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Celtics and Magic, while Lakers guard Jordan Farmar says the team plans to watch the game together somewhere over dinner. Before you go into the whole, "I thought this team wasn't thinking about Boston mantra," let's make it clear that this is hardly newsworthy. Before you go into the whole, "Well why you posting this as a blog item," let me clarify by saying the only reason I'm highlighting this is that it illustrates how the Lakers are taking a pretty realistic and balanced approach between focusing on the Western Conference finals matchup with Phoenix and doing the necessary contingency planning for the future.

Jackson joked the main thing he'll look for in today's game will involve noticing "who's officiating the game." Translation: It never hurts to find any way to get a head start on the psychological matchup. Farmar said the team's simply going to "see what's going on and pay attention and be a good basketball fan and enjoy good basketball." Translation: Watching the game will fuel their excitement for a possible 2008 Finals rematch, leading to inside stories over dinner about that series as well as about players from Boston and Orlando. Something tells me Kevin Garnett's and Matt Barnes' name will get brought up at least a few times.

Perhaps the only concern that will leave Jackson, Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher scratching their heads as well as making Phoenix upset entails Andrew Bynum's take on the possibility the Lakers play Boston in the Finals. I'm sure the Suns and Magic will post the following quote in their locker room and it will be used as evidence that the Lakers are already looking ahead, but I think this quote speaks more to the fact that Bynum never took the lesson in Bull Durham on how athletes are supposed to talk to the media.

"It's going to be amazing playing against those guys again," Bynum said of a possible Lakers-Celtics matchup. "Because we lost, we're going to have a lot of fuel and a lot of ammo. They're definitely a great team. They have great veterans on their squad. We know that. We're already getting prepared. The first step is closing out Game 3 and then after that, we'll be focusing."

Well to clarify, it's actually after you close out four games, but whatever. No harm, no foul. If anything, I believe the possibility that the Lakers play the Celtics in the Finals only fuels the team harder to close out their West Conference finals. With the rivalry and 2008 Finals fresh in their minds, surely wanting to enter the Finals at their best serves as the best strategy. And in fairness to the Lakers, their lacking urgency went away as early as April. Their struggles late in the season as well as initially in the first round against Oklahoma City pointed more to the team's inconsistent execution and chemistry.

That doesn't mean Phoenix can't pick up a win in Game 3. But if that happens, I suspect that comes as a result of a closely played game or the Suns knocking down their shots. But as far as the Lakers' focus is concerned? I'm not too worried about it. If anything, I'm refreshed to hear the team be so upfront and tactful about their feelings rather than act like Boston and Orlando don't exist.

--Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

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