Friday, April 25, 2008

Odom doesn't want Lakers to fall into trap

So Odom watched Thursday, as the unbeaten playoff teams fell like trees. First came the Orlando Magic, then the Cleveland Cavaliers and, lastly, the Utah Jazz.
Each team was up, 2-0, in their playoff series before losing, something the Lakers look to avoid as they depart to Denver for Saturday's Game 3 against the Nuggets.
"Whenever you have a lead, period, you are going to have a little more confidence," Odom said today at practice. "But if you watched playoff basketball last night, every team that had a 2-0 lead lost. So we are going to have to be really focused to pull this one out.
"That's something that we talked about," he added. "Or we will talk about. Especially on the plane. That's all you have to do is talk."
Kobe Bryant on comparing his drive toward winning his first NBA championship in 2000 with trying to win one now.
"It's different," Bryant said. "The first one, I was so young. Plus, I was sharing that pressure with somebody else. Me and Diesel [Shaquille O'Neal] both had that pressure on us to kind of get it done, he more so than I. Now, the pressure is squarely on my shoulders to try and bring another championship here. It's something that I accept. I think I'm a little hungrier now than I was the first time."
But isn't that a lot of pressure to put on himself?
"It comes with the territory," Bryant said. "You can't be Superman and not deal with the pressure of dropping somebody when you go to rescue them."

Howard has another 20-20 game as Magic beat Raptors
Two playoff games, two 20-point, 20-rebound outings for Dwight Howard. This time there was no question he was the difference maker.
Orlando's 3-point touch evaporated, but Howard's 29 points and 20 rebounds powered the Magic past the Toronto Raptors, 104-103, Tuesday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Howard was the first player with consecutive playoff games of 20 points and 20 rebounds since Kevin Garnett in 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"It was tough to come back and try to play the same way I played the first game, said Howard, who had 25 points and 22 rebounds on Sunday.
"But one of the things (coach Stan Van Gundy) has put in my head, and (Magic assistant Patrick Ewing), is just trying to play as dominant as I could on both ends of the floor. Since the last game, the only thing on my mind, when I go to sleep, when I wake up, at the gym with the guys, is to dominate."
Chris Bosh had 29 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto, but missed a 19-footer with 1.9 seconds left that could have won the game. Jason Kapono scored 20 points, Jose Calderon had 18 and Carlos Delfino added 16 for the Raptors.
"I knew I was going to have space," Bosh said of the last shot. "The time before I drove the basket and I didn't get a call. I didn't want to put it in the referee's hands. I wanted to get a clean look - I felt like I did a decent job. I got a decent look and just missed the shot."
Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis each scored 18 for Orlando. Hedo Turkoglu made the go-ahead layup and finished with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Orlando won despite shooting 9-of-31 from 3-point range - including a combined 0-of-13 for Turkoglu and Lewis. The Raptors made 11 of 29 3s, four by Kapono.
Toronto, which trailed most of the game, took a 101-100 lead with 1:04 left on three consecutive 3-pointers, one from Delfino and two by Calderon, plus a free throw by Delfino.
But Turkoglu drove the lane for an acrobatic layup to put Orlando back on top, 102-101, then sank two free throws to push the lead to three points. Delfino made another layup to make it 104-103 with 9.6 seconds left, and the Raptors immediately got the ball back after Orlando's Keyon Dooling was called for an offensive foul on the inbounds pass.
Toronto isolated Bosh for the last shot, but it was no good.
For the second straight game, Toronto got buried in a double-digit deficit in the opening minutes - this time from inside.
Though this one ended close, Raptors coach Sam Mitchell promised a lineup change for Game 3 on Thursday in Toronto. He had already changed it for the series by starting 7-foot Andrea Bargnani at small forward instead of rookie Jamario Moon.
"For whatever reason, we're falling behind," Mitchell said. "We just can't do that. It's a different basketball game if the score is tied or if we're down two or three at the end of the first quarter."
The game was much more physical than Sunday's series opener. Turkoglu was called for a flagrant foul in the second quarter defending Bosh. The Raptors star had just stolen a pass and had a clear shot at the basket when Turkoglu caught up with him, pushing Bosh hard to the ground.
Howard picked up a technical in the third quarter jawing with Delfino after the making a layup, plus the foul on the guard in the third quarter.
The Raptors took their first lead of the series in the third quarter, using a 7-0 run to go ahead 64-59. Orlando was 0-for-5 to start the quarter, but regained an 81-71 lead after Nelson's two 3-pointers and Howard's bucket that preceded his technical.
Orlando was only 1-of-5 on 3-pointers in the first quarter after a 9-of-11 performance in Game 1, but opened a 26-8 lead on Nelson's slash to the bucket 8:04 into the game. The Magic had five dunks in the first six minutes - including three in a row on fast breaks off a steal (two by Turkoglu and one from Lewis).
"We definitely need to have a better start," Bosh said. "I think we're too cross-matched - there are too many mismatches early in the game, which triggers that break."
The Raptors, who tied a franchise playoff low with eight turnovers in Game 1, had that many in the first 13 minutes.
But they closed the gap in the second quarter with a 15-5 run over 3:05. Kapono hit two 3s in the span and scored 13 in the quarter. Bosh, guarded by Magic reserve center Adonal Foyle and Howard instead of Lewis, as in Game 1, also had 13 in the period on 4-of-6 shooting. The Raptors finally tied it at 55 with Calderon's layup a minute before the half, then trailed 59-57 at halftime.
Van Gundy said the game was a good taste of the playoffs for his young stars, but he's not comfortable just being up 2-0.
"A series doesn't start until somebody loses a home game," he said. "We've just held court here, that's it. And we're going up there, so there's no cushion whatsoever. Until you break through nothing's really happened."

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