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This one will take time to get over

Jackson cancels practice after watching film of Game 4. 'This thing is not over,' he says, but history isn't on Lakers' side.

June 14, 2008|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

There was no other option, so the Lakers assembled at their training facility Friday morning, trying to leave behind one of the worst losses in the franchise's 60-year existence.

There was equally little success in dealing with the aftermath.

Ronny Turiaf wasn't his ebullient self. Luke Walton was notably quiet.

Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, veterans who had experienced unpalatable situations in the past, seemed to be the only ones able to compartmentalize the 97-91 loss to Boston in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, ready to move forward.

Taking in the scene, Coach Phil Jackson looked around the room and, after some Game 4 video analysis, told everyone to go home. Practice was canceled.

Try to forget what happened Thursday night, with an emphasis on try.

"Just in the checking out how the guys were and how they felt, I just felt it was a good idea," Jackson said.

Jackson was the only member of the Lakers who spoke to reporters Friday, sitting on a podium at a roller-hockey rink next to the Lakers' training facility. It would have been more fitting on a thin ice surface, seeing how the Lakers are skating dangerously these days.

No team has come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. If the Lakers win Game 5 Sunday at Staples Center, Games 6 and 7 would be in Boston. In the 23-year existence of the 2-3-2 Finals format, no team has ever won Games 6 and 7 on the road.

The odds are formidable, as expected after a Lakers team surrendered a 24-point lead and made history by allowing the largest Finals comeback since Elias Sports Bureau became the league's official stat-keeper in the 1970-71 season.

If it was gruesome for Lakers fans to watch, it was more horrifying for the players.

"I just told them as a team, they had their heart ripped out," Jackson said. "It's tough to recover from that, but they will. This thing is not over, and we want to force the action, want to continue to force the play."

The Lakers forced the Celtics into an apparent corner in the first half of Game 4.

Lamar Odom came alive with a 15-point, eight-rebound first half. Sasha Vujacic's three-pointer provided a 45-21 lead near the midpoint of the second quarter.

But Odom began drifting away from the basket in the second half. That three-pointer was Vujacic's only basket in nine tries. Players began to watch as Bryant tried to take over, which would be fine on many nights, but not Thursday. Bryant made only six of 19 shots and had 17 points.

Pau Gasol was largely ineffective in the fourth quarter -- four points, three fouls and one rebound -- and was singled out by Jackson because of a missed dunk near the end of the third quarter.

"He didn't go perhaps hard enough to the basket in one of those situations," Jackson said. "But that turned out to be a critical play. Those are the things that inspired their team, and we have to look at that as a critical element."

Jackson brought the motivational tools as well, bringing up the fact that Kevin Garnett said, "Yeah, I can taste it," when asked after Game 4 if he could sense a championship.

"That'll probably weigh strongly with Kobe," Jackson said.

Garnett said what he said with a monotone voice and followed it up quickly that he wasn't overconfident, though the Lakers were looking for anything to again stoke their fire.

They'll need it.

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mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

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NBA Finals

Boston leads series, 3-1

All games 6 p.m Pacific, Ch. 7

LAKERS VS. BOSTON

Game 1: at Boston 98, Lakers 88

Game 2: at Boston 108, Lakers 102

Game 3: at Lakers 87, Boston 81

Game 4: Boston 97, at Lakers 91

Game 5: Sunday at Staples Center

Game 6: Tuesday at Boston*

Game 7: Thursday at Boston*

* if necessary

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