Lakers Notebook: Game 4
By Martin C. Sumners
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, June 12, 2008 -- As the STAPLES Center crowd quietly ushered out after the home team Los Angeles Lakers let an18-point halftime lead slip away in a 97-91 defeat, one could hear the sounds of mournful horns of the arena house band.

As the horns section blew out the melody from David Lee Roth's Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody, it wasn't hard to be reminded of the refrain: "Nobody, nobody cares for me, nobody, nobody/I'm so sad and lonely, sad and lonely."

Sad and Lonely

Phil Jackson similarly described the tenor of the post-game locker room.

“Oh, they’re depressed about that,” Jackson said.

As expected, Jackson and the Lakers players were asked what happened.

Just like when someone is dumped by a former lover, the dumpee’s friends ask for some logical answers for the break-up. More often than not, there are none.

It's no shock the Lakers have no answers. Losing a game after posting a 21-point first quarter lead is a Finals first. One can point to the lack of ball movement by the Lakers in the second half, while others will hold that the Lakers bench was outscored 35-15.

In less bitter losses, defeated locker rooms are full of phrases like we need to execute better. And, we need to run the offense. Or, we need to have better rotation on defense.

The Lakers for the most part offered none of these clichés. They were heart-broken and the X’s and O’s -- whether they be whiteboard instructions or hugs and kisses -- don’t help right about now.

Derek Fisher, the consummate professional, however, tried to provide some rational thoughts.

‘We had a lot of possessions that did not get quality shots,” Fisher said. “They had confidence from their stops that helped them on offense.”

But in the end, Fisher concluded that often the stat sheet does not tell the story.

“At this level, often its emotion,” Fisher said. “It’s the hustle plays, the intangibles. Almost every game at this level is decided on the hustle board.

“It’s a loss – bottom line. We couldn’t close the job. They said we got an ugly win last time…I guess this is a pretty lose.”

Sasha Vujacic, the hero of Game 3, who shot 1-for-9 tonight, used a musical context, like the STAPLES Center house band, to describe the situation.

“I didn’t find the rhythm on offense," Vujacic said. But added, “If we are ready and have character that I think we have and the heart, we can win."

On the Bright Side

Andrew Bynum, for obvious reasons, drew a lot of attention when he went down with a knee injury in January. However, a week later, Trevor Ariza suffered an injury when he fractured the fourth metatarsal in his right foot during a practice.

Ariza did not return to the active roster until the playoffs. He only received some mop-up duty in the Western Conference Finals against San Antonio. In Game 2 of The Finals, he played some meaningful minutes, but appeared rusty. And in Game 3, he made a long jumper quickly after entering but thereafter he was quiet.

Tonight, he made some noise.

Ariza entered the game late in the first quarter with the Lakers holding a big lead of 27-12. With a little less than a minute remaining in the opening period, he grabbed a rebound and drew a foul from Ray Allen. He swished the first free throw. He missed the second, but the ball found its way to him in the corner and he dropped a three to make the score 34-12.

The second quarter was even better for the local product who also played collegiately in the city at UCLA. He started the scoring for the Lakers with a put-back dunk. He grabbed a few more boards for a total of five (three offensive). Ariza also had a steal, some deflections on defense and other hustle plays that do not make the stat sheet.

In a little less than six minutes of action, he also had six points.

Farmar Country

Often this season, Jordan Farmar is the Laker that takes quarter-ending shots. Usually bombs and he seems to sink them at a high rate of proficiency.

At media availability which allows the media to watch a portion of the team’s practice one can see Farmar practicing these types of shots. So, it was no surprise that he lofted the running three-pointer that ended the half with the Lakers up 58-40.

That, however, was the really the last hurrah for the Lakers.

Monday
Oct. 26
Rosters set for opening day

Tuesday
Oct. 27
Start of 2009-10 regular season

Saturday
April 18
2009 NBA Playoffs begin


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