A day after the Lakers lost Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Boston, the reaction in L.A. was quite bleak, to say the least.
The headline of the first article on the LATimes.com sports page read: “Lakers Make Losing Look Effortless.” That was followed by the other headlines like “When push comes to shove, the Lakers fail to answer” and “Kobe Bryant has no use for teamwork.” Yikes.
While those familiar with Boston sports are no strangers to negativity from the media or from fans, the latest reaction out of Tinseltown has some edge to it that would appeal to even the saltiest of New England sports fans.
The Celtics came out Sunday night and outhustled and outplayed the Lakers, and those on the Left Coast took notice.
“When the ball was loose, the Celtics got it, unless they fumbled it away or two of them dived on it and knocked it over to a Laker,” L.A. Times writer Mark Heisler wrote in his column Monday.
Bill Plaschke wasn’t much kinder in his column. “This is no longer a series, it is a stereotype, the resilient Celtics boxing around the retreating Lakers,” he wrote.
In regards to the Lakers having home-court advantage in Game 6 and a potential Game 7, Plaschke didn’t mince words: “If home is where the heart is, the Lakers need to conduct an all-out search once they arrive.”
Even the lone bright spot for the Lakers, Kobe Bryant’s 38-point outburst wasn’t enough to give the Los Angeles scribes any sort of comfort or satisfaction. The Times’ T.J. Simers not-so-affectionately referred to Bryant as “Our Ball Hog” in his column Monday. He didn’t stop there, either.
Simers sarcastically lamented: “Over the years, it doesn’t always mean the Lakers are going to win when Our Ball Hog loses sight of everyone else, but you’ve got to admit it’s the best in basketball entertainment.”
Simers also mockingly added: “Later, I heard he [Bryant] wanted to fly the plane home, too.”
Although the Lakers are saying all the right things publicly about getting back into the series, it’s no secret that those who are following them closely don’t have much hope for the men in purple and gold.
Plaschke may have put it best: “At this point, the better team is not the better team. The biggest is not the strongest. Style is getting whacked by substance. Talent is getting whacked by tough.”
The words of criticism for the Lakers are even more interesting when considering that had the Lakers won Sunday night, they’d be in the driver’s seat with the series heading back to Staples Center and two chances to win the title. What a difference one game makes.
The Lakers came into the season, playoffs and the NBA Finals favored to win it all. However, if they don’t get their act together and match the effort level of the more resilient Celtics team, the L.A. media will have to replace negative headlines and negative columns with an obituary for the Lakers’ 2009-10 season.