EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - If Phil Jackson hasn’t already gotten enough credit for a good game plan against the Suns, Lamar Odom believes the Lakers’ unlikely rally Sunday in some way came about only because of Jackson.
“Some teams start to take on the personality of their coach,” Odom said. “Our coach is patient and laidback. People get on Phil when he doesn’t call a timeout, but he keeps everything at ease.”
And so the Lakers were patient Sunday, not panicking, believing they could prevail. However, even Jackson reflected on it Monday as “two impossible wins in one single game.”
The Lakers’ next task is to find a killer instinct that their coach has made a feature of his previous Lakers teams. Under Jackson, those more experienced Lakers teams won 13 of their last 14 close-out games. These Lakers get their first shot at eliminating the Suns tonight in Game 5 in Phoenix.
There has even been some killer-instinct motif spread around the Lakers’ facility: Jackson has dropped some clips of TV mob boss Tony Soprano into his film sessions, albeit more for comic value.
Jackson referred to the Game 4 victory as a potential “turnaround game” — but that only applies if the Lakers keep going in the direction they are headed.
“We’ve yet to accomplish anything,” Jackson said. With Kobe Bryant absent from practice Monday after the birth of his daughter, Devean George stood alone as a player from the dynasty era to present that message.
“One thing that guys who’ve been in playoff series know is that you don’t want to give any team any kind of life,” George said. “Regardless of whether we’re in control of the series right now or not, you don’t want to give them any kind of confidence, because anything can happen.”
After Game 4, the Lakers and Suns know that’s true.
And from a long view, based on history there is a 9.1 percent chance
of a No. 7 seed eliminating a No. 2 seed. Based on history, there’s also a 4.4 percent chance of a team winning after facing a 3-1 series deficit.
Bryant was scheduled to join the Lakers in Phoenix on Monday night or this morning before the team’s shootaround. Of the birth of Gianna Bryant, Jackson said, “Timing’s right.”
About arriving by Monday night, Jackson said: “I told him not to worry about that, to come when he can and get the rest he needs.”
Bryant was away from the Lakers last April for some inconsequential regular season games when his wife was ill because of an ectopic pregnancy, which is one that takes place outside the uterus. Bryant nearly missed a playoff game in Sacramento to be with his wife in 2001. In that case, she was taken to an emergency room because of what was described as severe pain in her left side.