Walking into the locker room after a crucial Game 5 loss, Kobe Bryant could be heard going on an expletive-filled tirade at his team. His comment later to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski was telling.
“We’ve regressed since Game 1,” Bryant confessed to Yahoo! Sports. “Our defense belongs on milk cartons in the last two games.”
A few minutes after Bryant’s venting to his team, Phil Jackson was in front of the media with a different demeanor. He was trying to be positive.
“They scored 92 points,” Jackson said. “We’ll live with that and we’ll come back and play that game again, regardless of what they shot.”
Welcome to the Lakers good cop/bad cop routine.
Bryant is the fiery one trying to scare his teammates into a better performance. Jackson is the soothing one, coming in afterwards to build up their confidence and ego again. They are on the same page most ways, trying to find a way to inspire these Lakers to do things like get a hand in Paul Pierce’s face or grab a loose ball rather than watching Kevin Garnett get to it.
Game 6 will be interesting. For two seasons now, these Lakers have really only played their very best ball when their backs were against the wall. They saved their best for when pressured.
But in Game 5, when they Lakers should have been pressured, they let the Celtics push them around, out work them, out play them. Will that be different at Staples Center, in front of the home fans? Or will Boston’s bench still bring more energy?
Jackson and Bryant have gone Starsky and Hutch to do their part.