EL SEGUNDO, Calif. — With their backs against the wall on the heels of a devastating Game 4 collapse that saw the Celtics open a commanding 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals, the Lakers leaned on all the typical cliches as they met with the media following their Saturday practice at the Toyota Sports Center.
The catchprhase of the day, not surprisingly, is, “One game at a time.”
“You can’t be thinking about Game 6 or Game 7,” said Pau Gasol. “We’ve got home court (Sunday) and we need to take care of that, then go from there. We can’t get too far ahead of ourselves and we can’t get down on ourselves. That won’t play into our favor.”
Echoed Jordan Farmar: “It’s gotta be one game at a time. That’s all that matters. If you don’t win now, there’s no other games. All of our focus has to be on Sunday.”
The Lakers need three straight wins, including two on the road in Boston, to come from behind in this series. By putting the focus on Sunday’s game, the task seems a bit less daunting.
But then there’s the mental hurdle of overcoming Thursday’s epic collapse in which the Celtics erased a 24-point deficit — the biggest in Finals history — to win Game 4, 97-91, at the Staples Center.
Can the Lakers move forward from that?
“It’s already behind us,” said Sasha Vujacic. “We gotta be ready (for Sunday). We put that game behind us. We studied the tape, we know what we did wrong. We have to go out and stick with our game plan for 48 minutes.”
So how exactly did the Celtics’ storm back Thursday?
“They played hard and slowly cut the lead until it was manageable,” said Farmar. “They played a great game from there… You want to forget it and not dwell on it, but you also want to learn from it.”
The Lakers say they’ll be ready for Sunday.
“We’re down 3-1, we have to show our character,” said Vujacic. “We have to show our heart. I think we’re ready for that.”