Just like Jackson isn’t a rah-rah type coach, the Lakers aren’t your atypical go-with-the-punches, dig deep within the depths of themselves and win despite facing adversity type of team. In reality that last characteristic of teams isn’t atypical at all. It’s something the Lakers had carried with them after they were bounced 39-times over by the Celtics in 2008 and apparently shrugged it off somewhere between now and then.
“When I think about this series and I think about this game,” Odom said, “[Dallas’] bond on the basketball court was better than ours, it seemed like. They were able to come back from 16 [in Game 1]. Come back from seven or eight with three minutes to go, and there was something missing [from us].”
The warning signs, the red flags were all there. They were so abundant during the regular season that they would’ve outnumbered the Laker flags seen riding on the cars along the Interstate-405 freeway 36-to-1. The Lakers had losing streaks of five games, four games and three games (twice), something they hadn’t done in the previous 217 games since acquiring Pau Gasol. Each time they had a perplexing, disheartening loss they never came back with the same fire and fervor that they had during their two previous runs at the title.
“I don’t know where we lost it. That certain drive and bond that we had, that we had in the past. That cohesive drive in order to overcome adversity,” Odom said.
They had an opportunity to bring the Heat back down to earth on Christmas Day in front of their home-crowd, but failed. They beat a lowly Cleveland Cavaliers team by 55 points and then lost to that same team by five points the following month. They had two consecutive double-digit defeats at home by teams with a sub-500 record. Their post All-Star break run of winning 17 games in 18 tries, that once appeared incredible now looks more like an illusion.
Next: More signs the end was near
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