Lakers Coach Phil Jackson communicates with his players on the court after… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
So the Lakers won't win the series in six games.
Didn't think so — I have them doing it in seven.
This just makes it that much more exciting, that much more historic if not unbelievable once the Lakers win four in a row to eliminate the Mavericks.
"I might be sick in the head or crazy," Kobe Bryant said, "but I still think we're going to win the series."
Wait until he hears we think alike.
The Lakers win Sunday, return home to win and let's see what everyone is saying going into Game 6.
I believe— in some ways because no one else probably will. Hey, I still believe Jonathan Broxton will get someone out before the season ends.
"We're a much better team than that," Coach Phil Jackson yelled during a timeout. And while he was referring to the Lakers failure to defend the Mavericks' three-point shooting, isn't it really a commentary on the Lakers entire season?
Sooner or later, and it's probably a good idea to make it sooner, the Lakers are going to have to flip the switch and just refuse to turn it off.
It's going to take a NBA miracle now, the ideal final chapter to the book Jackson is planning to write, or who buys it? So you know Phil is still motivated.
As it is, what a way to go, 11 championship rings only to be swept aside while taking a final bow. It can't really end like this, can it?
Any other team probably rolls over and plays dead Sunday. But as unpredictable as the Lakers have been this season, I can't imagine the two-time defending champs just calling it quits.
Kobe has done it before — Phoenix comes to mind — but he doesn't have as many throwaway games remaining in his career as he once did.
"We still believe we're going to win the next game," Jackson said. "We played too well to lose, is what I said to the team after the game."
The Lakers didn't finish off Dallas in Game 1, uncharacteristic for a team with enough true grit to win back-to-back titles.
"It's how we're playing; it's how the games are ending," said Lamar Odom, his shot off target with a minute to play, every miss at that point a game-changer.
The Lakers didn't finish off Dallas in Game 3, with everyone now taking it for granted the Lakers are finished.
"I'm upset because we let two games get away," Bryant said. "But I'm not discouraged at all."
The next two days, of course, will be dedicated to pounding Pau Gasol. Jackson got the first punch in during Game 3.
That's as animated as anyone has probably seen Jackson in his Los Angeles coaching career, the Zen Master going Bobby Knight on Gasol. What's the next step, wringing the scrawny guy's neck? Anyone have a problem with that?
These aren't the same Lakers who played so well in the playoffs in recent memory because Gasol hasn't been the same player. In so many words, Jackson said he grew weary of Gasol, the crybaby, prompting the punch to Gasol's chest.
Amazingly enough, Gasol did not fall down.
"I always like to see the response from players, how they respond to situations and criticism," Jackson said before the game, and no one has been criticized more than Gasol in this series.
And now we know how Gasol reacts to criticism. It's time maybe to remind him he's a great player capable of doing great things and he won't get that chance until after the NBA strike if he doesn't show up Sunday.
Otherwise it will be time to go play some golf in Lake Tahoe. It's really up to the Lakers, a win-win situation if you ask me, a thrilling, historic finish in seven games, or time to tee it up.
THE KENTUCKY Derby is today, so I tracked down Mr. B, a.k.a. Bob Baedeker, who is the very best in the business when it comes to identifying winning horses.
He's no longer on TV talking racing, the emphasis now on entertainment because the sport is dying every other day of the year other than today.
Baedeker has gone into partnership with Don Palmer, the two of them running Live Your Dream Stables. They have won three of the four races won by Salty Sarah, the only horse now in their barn.
The horse is trained by Bob Baffert, who won the Kentucky Oaks on Friday. Baffert did Baedeker a favor in return for the help Baedeker provided Baffert when he was getting started.
"I've gone 40 years not letting emotions get involved in making my selections," Baedeker said, "but because of Bobby's unbelievable loyalty, I'm going with his horse in the Derby."
So Baedeker is picking Midnight Interlude to win the big race, with Soldat, Nehro and Mucho Macho Man finishing close
I have no such loyalty toward Baffert, so I'm taking Soldat, Brilliant Speed, Nehro and Archarcharch.
When I mentioned my picks to one of the top trainers locally, Doug O'Neill, he scoffed and said he has Mucho Macho Man, Twice The Appeal, Dialed In and Stay Thirsty.
"If one of mine finishes best, you have to write something good about horse racing" O'Neill said, as tough a task as I can imagine.
And if one of my horses finishes best, O'Neill has to name a horse in my honor.
"Deal," O'Neill said in setting the stage for Page 2's debut somewhere down the road.