Lakers doing their best to look ahead to Game 5

Associated Press
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant appeared relaxed and jovial at a news conference Saturday. He insisted that the Lakers have moved on from a collapse in Game 4, when the Celtics stormed back from a 24-point deficit to steal a win.

LOS ANGELES --- With the same purpose as one of his in-your-face jumpers, Kobe Bryant leaned into the microphone.


He promised more NBA Finals games to come.

"The series ain't over," he said. "It's far from over."

Faced with long odds, Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers returned to the practice floor Saturday for the first time since Game 4, when the Boston Celtics stormed back from a 24-point deficit to win and take a 3-1 lead in this reborn rivalry.

The Lakers have run out of time and tomorrows. It's either win Game 5 today or pack away the sneakers for the summer.

No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals, and even if the Lakers can stave off elimination and win at Staples Center, they'll have to play the next two games in Boston, where the Celtics are 12-1 this postseason. Since the league switched to the much-debated 2-3-2 format in 1985, no team has won the last two games on the road.

The climb is a steep one, and if the Lakers have any chance of mounting a comeback, Bryant, the league's MVP and the sport's most transcendent player, must be the one to lead them.

If he's feeling pressure, Bryant isn't showing it.

Bryant was relaxed and jovial during a news conference at the club's practice facility in El Segundo. He cracked jokes during a 10-minute session with the media.

The three-time champion insists the Lakers have moved on since their Game 4 collapse.

"We've got to take care of business on Sunday," said Bryant, who spent much of the past two days relaxing at home with his family. "So what are we going to do? How am I going to get my teammates in the right frame of mind, make sure they're energetic, and that's what it's been all about."

Bryant said he spent much of the past two days reading a Harry Potter book to his daughters.

"It was awesome," he said. "He had more problems dealing with Voldemort than what we have dealing with the media and the Celtics."

Boston is one win from its 17th NBA title and first in 22 years, but the Celtics are wary of Bryant. They've done a decent job of containing him through four games -- his only breakout was a 36-point performance in Game 3 -- but they know Bryant can single-handedly beat them if they're not careful.

"We're up 3-1, and we know we have a lot of basketball to play because Kobe is on that team," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "He's the scariest player in the NBA in a lot of ways, so you're fearful of him all the time. A respectful fear."



GAME 1: Boston 98, Los Angeles 88

GAME 2: Boston 108, Los Angeles 102

GAME 3: Los Angeles 87, Boston 81

GAME 4: Boston 97, Los Angeles 91

Today: Boston at Los Angeles

TUESDAY: Los Angeles at Boston*

THURSDAY: Los Angeles at Boston*

* If necessary; games start at 9 p.m.



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