|PHIL JACKSON Seeking rhythm|
Upon leaving TD Banknorth Garden after Game 2, the Lakers anxiously awaited the release of a new DVD. Not a big-studio blockbuster designed to inspire them. Just the game film from their 108-102 loss Sunday night.
The Lakers wanted a good look at what worked well against the Celtics during the fourth quarter, when they staged a 31-9 run and came within 2 points of tying the game. They wanted to see what could be learned from mistakes made in the first, second, and third quarters. And they didn't want to waste any time before preparing for Game 3 tonight at the Staples Center.
While the players and coach Phil Jackson didn't sound like big believers in the advantages of momentum game to game, they were encouraged by the prospect of viewing film that would show the bad and the good.
"I can't even explain how much I'm looking forward to getting back to LA and to studying the tape," said Sasha Vujacic. "We can learn from our mistakes and do everything different than what we did here in Game 2.
"We know we can beat them. It just wasn't good enough. We showed potential. We showed that we can fight. A little bit of positive light came out from the game, but it's hard to lose like that. It's frustrating.
"The series is not over yet. They protected their home court and now we've got to go home. We didn't deserve to win in Game 2 and we've got to come better in Game 3."
Undoubtedly, the tape will show two sides of the Lakers. There will be the first 40 minutes when they, once again, struggled on both ends of the floor.
One clip will show Leon Powe slipping through a slalom course of Lakers defenders, who were content to be bystanders. There will also be the eight minutes in which the Lakers nailed 3-pointers, competed with an aggressiveness absent from their earlier play, and made it to the free throw line.
"We noticed something in the fourth quarter that we can do that we'll look at and see if we can't use them at Staples," said Kobe Bryant.
Added Luke Walton, "We obviously have something to look at with the film to see what was working. It's nice to see the film and see the difference. It's easy to talk about, but it helps more when you can actually see what's working on film.
"But whether we lost by 20 or we lost by 4, 5, 6 points, we're not scared by Boston. We're not going to go home and think that we can't beat them."
Meanwhile, Jackson was in fine form after Game 2, despite dropping another one to the Celtics. He was quick with the one-liners, and even quicker with criticism of the officiating. He seemed to open his wallet for a fine, calling the Celtics' 38-10 advantage in free throw attempts "ridiculous" and accusing the referees of buying into "an illusion."
But talk of the officials allowed Jackson to avoid in-depth analysis of the Lakers' play.
When asked about gaining momentum from the fourth-quarter rally, Jackson wasn't exactly interested in delving into his team's psyche. He dismissed any notion that it could provide an advantage tonight, asserting that momentum could not be carried from coast to coast. He didn't want to hear anything about the Celtics' road struggles in the playoffs, either.
"I'm not worried about which Celtics team shows up," said Jackson. "I'm worried about what Lakers team shows up. That's the one that moves the ball and we do things well on the offensive end. You saw that as the game progressed that we started finding our rhythm on offense."
During the Lakers' comeback, it was clear they had found their rhythm on offense, tying a Finals record for most 3-pointers in a quarter with seven. More importantly, in a series where they have struggled to match the Celtics' physical play, the Lakers showed the ability to match the Celtics' intensity.
"When you're down 20, basically you have nothing to lose," said Vladimir Radmanovic. "We played really aggressive. We forced them to do things that they're not used to.
"We have to take one game at a time. We play three games at home and we have to take advantage of that. The Celtics did that. We have to do the same thing. Be aggressive from the start."
The Lakers know it's not too late to adopt "aggressive from the start" as their motto. But they could have used a more aggressive disposition from the start of the Finals. At this point, they will take whatever they can get, whenever they can get it.