LOS ANGELES - Trailing in a playoff series affects not only the mind-set of the players but also the coaches. Phil Jackson knows he must find a way to bring out the best in the Lakers at home without adding to the pressure inherent in staging a Finals comeback.
He successfully dealt with that challenge last night in Game 3. With an 87-81 victory, the Lakers now trail, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series.
"When you're behind, it looks like making mountains out of molehills," said Jackson. "You've got to be careful you don't do too much. Otherwise, you eliminate some of the things you're doing really well or OK.
"When you're ahead, you don't see those problems or they're not as important. You don't see the situation as it is, obviously, because you've had success. You try to get the team to recognize the things that go wrong and the things that go right. That's hard to emphasize."
With cross-country travel and no practice on the Lakers' schedule Monday, there wasn't much time for the team to review all the changes Jackson wanted to make last night.
When asked if yesterday morning's shootaround was a good way to review what he wanted, Jackson said, "No, it wasn't." Then he joked, "We'll just have to wing it."
Support systemForward Lamar Odom has struggled in the Finals, averaging 12 points per game and 7 rebounds going into last night. Entering the series with the Celtics, he had been averaging 14.7 points and 10.3 rebounds in the playoffs. "I've given him a little bit of information, some video work to do and to think about, and support basically," Jackson said before tipoff. "No doubt about it, we need Lamar to play the type of game he can give us, a 10- or 12-rebound game and six or eight assists." Odom had his troubles last night, finishing with 4 points (2 for 9) and 9 rebounds in nearly 28 minutes . . . When asked what about the Lakers' defense made a difference in the play of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (19 points between them), Jackson said, "I just think that Kevin kind of ran out of gas. It looked like he was gassed sometime in the fourth quarter. Putting Kobe [ Bryant] on Pierce was the difference in tonight's game. It was more difficult for him to work to get free."
Speaking his languageBryant on missing 7 of his 18 free throw attempts: "It felt like I was in foreign territory. I haven't been there in so long. It's like somebody took me and just dropped me off in the middle of Shanghai with no translator, you know what I'm saying? And no dictionary. It was crazy." . . . When scoring 90 or fewer points in playoff games, the Lakers are 9-22 since Bryant joined the team.
Backing awayAfter the shootaround, it was clear Jackson wanted to put his comments about the free throw disparity in Game 2 (38-10 in favor of the Celtics) behind him. Asked if his assessment of calls had changed upon further review, Jackson said it hadn't. Then, in response to a question about the NBA wanting to talk to him about his comments, he simply shook his head, looking at the small crowd of reporters for the next query.
Shira Springer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org