Lakers confident despite 2-0 hole

Updated: May 5, 2011, 10:57 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- A confident, cheery and somewhat defiant Los Angeles Lakers team took to the practice court Thursday less than 24 hours after falling behind 2-0 in their Western Conference semifinals series with the Dallas Mavericks.

Was it a time for panic? Worry? Fear? Hardly.

"I'd like to cry, but I can't right now," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "It's a game and we know it's a game. When we play it, we play it hard and we anticipate winning in Dallas."

The Lakers spent the practice session working on their defensive rotations and pick-and-roll coverage after allowing Mavericks guard Jose Barea to rack up eight points and two assists in the fourth quarter of L.A.'s 93-81 Game 2 loss.

"We went over quite a bit of things," said Kobe Bryant. "Learned a lot. Saw a lot and are ready to make adjustments."

Jackson echoed Bryant on the Lakers' focus on making corrections.

"I think there are spaces on the floor that are confusing to our players," Jackson said. "There are various spots on the floor that we change our rotation and I think it confused the players where we had to get that straight again to where we have to be."

The mood of the team seemed considerably lighter than it's been in weeks, despite the fact the league doled out a one-game suspension to Ron Artest for his late hit to the face of Barea.

Some of the more controversial quotes to come out of the postgame locker room on Wednesday were addressed, starting with Andrew Bynum's claim that there were "trust issues" among the team.

"I thought he was speaking about trusses, my dad wore a truss," Jackson cracked. "I thought that's what he was speaking about ... So we talked a little bit about 'truss' issues."

Lakers executive Magic Johnson did not gloss over Bynum's remarks as easily.

"Bynum should have never made those comments publicly," Johnson wrote on his Twitter account. "Call a players only meeting and discuss those issues internally with your teammates."

Johnson later was a guest on SportsCenter and said, "Pat Riley would have probably thrown Bynum off the team" for saying what he did.

Kobe Bryant, who is tied with Johnson with five championship rings as a member of the Lakers, did not pay much credence to the franchise legend's stance on the subject.

"What the hell do I care?" Bryant said. "It means nothing, whether he said it or not doesn't really mean a damn thing. We just got to win a game."

Later, Jackson explained the breakdowns on the court that Bynum was alluding to.

"Andrew, if his guy gets five dunks in the process of coming over and help, he has to come over the sixth time," Jackson said. "It's as simple as that. Somebody else has to take responsibility for his guy. So, that's the trust factor that he's thinking about."

Bynum did not speak to reporters on Thursday.

Jackson also said he didn't go through with his plan of "flogging" his players as punishment for their poor play, as he deadpanned was his intent on Wednesday night.

"I didn't flog them physically, but I did a little mental flogging today," he said.

Bryant followed up his declaration from Wednesday, when he said, "Everybody's tripping" about the Lakers' predicament, by projecting an even-keel perspective again on Thursday.

"You just play the next game. It's not that big of a deal to win two games in a row," said Bryant. "Stop acting like we've never won two games in a row. It's silly."

And as for what's sure to be a raucous American Airlines Arena home crowd for Friday's Game 3?

"Like noise is going to block a jump shot," Bryant said. "It's just noise."

The Lakers are trying to become just the fourth team in league history to drop their first two games at home and come back to win a best-of-seven series. The only others to do it were the 1969 Lakers, 1994 Houston Rockets and the 2005 Mavericks.

Some of the members of the Lakers actually already have experience rallying from down 2-0 and winning a series. Los Angeles did just that in 2004, beating the Spurs in six games after losing the first two games of their second-round series in San Antonio.

Jackson encouraged the Lakers to focus on past success to inspire confidence in their ability to make adjustments throughout the course of a series.

"We just had to pull them up and say, 'Recall Orlando, recall Phoenix, recall some of these things that we've done in the past and maybe you guys will summon back some of the things that you're familiar with,'" he said.

As Jackson finished up his media session to catch the team's 2 p.m. PT flight to Dallas, he was asked if he had thought about the possibility that he could be leaving Los Angeles for the last time as the Lakers coach.

"We'll be back on Tuesday night," Jackson said, swatting away the notion of a sweep and preparing to continue his "last stand" season at Staples Center for Game 5 and beyond.

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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