It's gut check time. As a team, and as a fan.
For the Lakers, they must go out (again) and show the World that everything will be fine. That they are the team we know they are; the Championship team we know they can be.
The fans? Well, also need a gut check. There are a lot of you ready to turn on your team with every loss. What side of the fence were you on after Games 2 & 3? Are you able to honestly explain your disappointment because you know these Lakers are better than this? Or do you post things like, "Bottom line....the Lakers SUCK!" (The latter link is a "fanpost", not an official Silver Screen and Roll contributor post.)
Don't get me wrong. I am just as upset as the next fan, but I will not turn on my team after any and every loss. Nor should you. Remember, one loss only counts as one loss. There will be lumps along the way, and because of those growing pains, it makes the wins so much sweeter.
Last year's ride was easy. How did that turn out? Just ask Kobe.
When asked about Cleveland and Denver having an easy time in their series, Bryant said: “We did last year, too, except for one time. Boston came away with the championship when they weren’t supposed to be mentally tough enough to get it done, so I don’t pay much attention to it.”
Click on through for rest of your Lakers links.
"What to make of these Lakers? Is it time to panic yet? Maybe, maybe not – I suppose only time will truly tell. But it is clear that at this point, the most significant factor in any Lakers game is heart.
Do they come with passion, intensity, desire, and a willingness to work their asses off to attain their goal? If they do, then I can hardly see another team taking a game, let alone a series....
So, instead of matchups and breakdowns, our preview for Game 5 focuses on the Lakers' heart, on their mindset entering this game and going forward, and on how we, as fans, should react to this team..."
"...Team Purple should be revved up and ready to reclaim their mantle as Western Conference favorite. This will take some doing after Sunday's humiliating 20 point shellacking disguised by a garbage-time recovery. It's best of 3 now with those hustling Houstoners — first team to 2 advances, loser goes home. No room for errors.
Let's hear what the Rocket boosters have to say about this 5th tilt, shall we?"
"L.A. deserves exactly what they now have, thanks to an inexplicably poor effort on Sunday. There's no guarantee they would have won the game had they played well, as Houston was outstanding. But the fact that they got destroyed is indicative of how poor their effort was. Of course they will play better, and Houston will be hard pressed to match Game 4. Still, Houston's belief is very strong, as is their team, mentally and physically. I see this as a coin flip game. So I'm taking the home team, but for the second year in a row, I'll end up pulling for the hardest playing group of players in these playoffs."
"After a poor shooting night in Game 1, you had to know that the Lakers would find their shooting rhythm back in Game 2 and they really started shooting lights out in Game 3, on the road. I thought the Rockets played excellent help defense in Game 1, but the Lakers just shot the ball poorly, chalk it up to the long layoff between the series."
(We'll need more of this.)
"With or without sore-backed Lamar Odom, the Lakers win Game 5 Tuesday night. Easily.
To understand why, an explanation for this lame Lakers effort Sunday is necessary… an educated explanation instead of some kneejerk overreaction that wrongly condemns the Lakers as now fraudulent favorites."
"In the grander scheme, the Lakers have one main challenge to overcome -- themselves."
"In the interest of being concise I'm tempted to say everything about them was bawful in this loss; but since that's not really in keeping with the spirit of this site, and because I definitely owe all the people I battled with last week over the Lakers & Rockets a take from the other side, allow me to expand upon the myriad ways that the Lakers were plain miserable in Game 4."
"The strangest moment of the NBA playoffs took place during Game 3 of the Lakers-Rockets series, when Kobe Bryant hit an 18-foot turnaround jumper from the left elbow with Shane Battier's right hand in his face. Bryant immediately began shaking his head with a look that indicated he smelled something really bad. This -- as you know -- is Kobe's dismissive face, the one he now makes after nearly every basket."
(Nonsense. If it gets Kobe going, then I'm all for it. Why shouldn't he take exception. New York Times articles are written about it [and praised]. Question: When Battier puts his hand in Kobe's face after Kobe is already in his shooting motion, how is that great defense? The hand in the face is so overrated. Motivated Kobe equals beautiful basketball.)
"There are two ways the Lakers can go tonight if power forward Lamar Odom is unable to play in Game 5 of their increasingly compelling second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets because of a bruised back...."
"Kobe versus LeBron. Could it ever be anything else?
No, and nothing that has transpired so far in these playoffs suggests that we won't get the finals matchup that everyone outside of a few selected cities wants. That includes the little hiccup the Lakers suffered in Houston when Bryant and his teammates found out Yao Ming was gone and simply didn't show up to play on Mother's Day."
"You think Houston was embarrassing?
If the Lakers want to win grown-up awards, they'd better learn to live up to grown-up standards and stand up to grown-up heat, or there are more where these came from."
"But these are the Lakers. They don’t do contrition. It’s beneath them. Sort of like a reliable effort."
ESPN NBA Today (w/ Spike Lee talking about "Kobe Doin' Work")