NBA finals, Lakers Celtics: Phil Jackson plays good cop, Kobe Bryant plays bad cop


Thumbnail image for Lakers_huddle.jpgWalking 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.

Khris Middleton dunks, Jimmy Butler can’t stop him (VIDEO)

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Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.

Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.

Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.