Perhaps he forgot he was wearing a microphone. Or maybe he wanted to be heard. Either way, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson seemed to take a shot at the Boston Celtics on Sunday night -- and everybody watching on television saw it.
During a fourth quarter timeout late in Game 5, and with his comments aired on ABC thanks to a microphone he was wearing for the broadcast, Jackson told his players they had nothing to fear, despite trailing the Celtics late in the game.
"This team has lost more games in the fourth quarter than anybody in the NBA," Jackson said. "They know how to lose in the fourth quarter, all right? They're just showing us that right now."
Though the Lakers were able to cut Boston's lead to five points at one point, the Celtics held on to win the game, 92-86 and take a 3-2 lead in the series. Game 6 is Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
After the game, informed of Jackson's comments, Celtics forward Paul Pierce appeared unmoved.
"You know, he's right. What you just said, that's been the truth for us throughout the regular season," Pierce said. "He's supposed to say something like that. I probably would say the same thing if I was a coach in that situation. It doesn't bother me at all."
Pierce noted that he'd like to prevent the fourth-quarter trend from re-emerging.
"We don't want to be that team like we were in the regular season," Pierce said. "So hopefully we can go out [to Los Angeles] and try to win one of these two games and not give up a fourth-quarter lead."
Asked his thoughts, Kevin Garnett was more direct: "No reaction at all. I'm looking forward to Game 6. I couldn't care less what Phil Jackson is talking about."
Jackson was asked about his comments making the air after the Lakers shootaround Tuesday morning and asked the reporter, "What did you think of it?"
The coach said he was "surprised" that the comment did not stay on the cutting room floor but maintained, "I was just quoting a stat that was given to me by my scouts and just giving the guys encouragement to finish the game out."
Ultimately, Jackson said he didn't mind that the comment got out.
"You know, what's the difference?" Jackson asked. "If what I was given is true, it's true and they were having a hard time scoring."
He also scoffed at the notion that the quote could become bulletin-board material.
"Did they need any more motivation than this? The Finals are enough motivation."
ESPNLosAngeles.com's Dave McMenamin and ESPNBoston.com's Chris Forsberg contributed to this report.