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Fatigued Lakers have little time for rest during playoffs

The Lakers, who needed seven games to defeat Denver in the first round, have three games in the next five days against the well-rested Thunder, which beat them, 119-90, on Monday.

May 14, 2012|By Mike Bresnahan

OKLAHOMA CITY — The Lakers didn't look so great Monday. The news gets only worse for them.

They have three games in the next five days against the supremely well-rested Oklahoma City Thunder.

"It does seem rushed," Lakers Coach Mike Brown said Monday.

The Lakers won a Game 7 against Denver on Saturday, boarded their charter flight Sunday and got squashed Monday by the Thunder, 119-90, in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Thank you, lockout? To a degree, yes.

"Games seem to come pretty quickly," Kobe Bryant said.

It's especially obvious because the Lakers went only two days between games after sneaking past Denver. The Thunder went nine days between games after sweeping Dallas in the first round.

The Lakers crammed in a two-hour video session Sunday night and a 90-minute shootaround Monday morning after arriving in Oklahoma City. That was all.

Time will get even shorter the rest of the week.

When the 66-game regular-season schedule was released in December, the NBA warned there could be back-to-back games in the second round of the playoffs.

Teams raised an eyebrow. Hoped it wouldn't be them.

The Lakers will play an almost unheard-of back-to-back set Friday and Saturday for Games 3 and 4 at Staples Center.

"It's our reward for playing a compacted season," Bryant said dryly.

The Clippers also have a back-to-back situation in their series, playing host to San Antonio in Games 3 and 4 on Saturday afternoon and Sunday night.

Much of the blame, however, goes to the rare case of three playoff teams at Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Kings are still alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The home dates for their current round, the conference finals, were set a few days before those of the Lakers and Clippers simply because the hockey playoffs finished their most recent round a bit earlier.

The NBA was forced to scramble.

"I'm happy for the city of L.A.," Brown said before the opener against Oklahoma City. "I've got to speak to my man [AEG executive] Tim Leiweke. They've got to do a better job, get another floor in that building. I'll speak to them later. That's not right."

He was joking. It was eight hours before Monday's tipoff. There were few smiles after that.

The Lakers knew what awaited in Oklahoma City, tired or not.

"This is their crack at it," Bryant said of the young, ridiculously quick Thunder. "They're a much better team now than when we played them a few years ago."

The Lakers beat the Thunder in six games in the first round in 2010. The Thunder, however, finished six games ahead of the Lakers this season in the standings.

"They feel like they have arrived, which they should, because they've played very good basketball," Brown said.

The Lakers looked fatigued. The Thunder looked fresh.

Not a good start for the Lakers. They won't have much time to recover, if they even can.

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