NBA playoffs: Lakers not worried about extra time off
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. - Lamar Odom has enjoyed kicking back like an average fan since the Los Angeles Lakers made quick work of the Denver Nuggets in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
And like most average fans, Odom wouldn't mind seeing a little bonus coverage.
"I am home watching playoff basketball, hoping that the Utah-Houston series goes seven games and maybe like three overtimes," Odom said after the Lakers went through a short practice on Wednesday afternoon.
"We want to see these teams battle each other, beat each other up, and then we will be ready for them," he added.
As the Jazz and Rockets prepare to play Game 6 in Salt Lake City on Friday night, the Lakers are resting, recuperating and waiting to begin game planning for their second-round opponent.
If the Jazz win Friday, the Lakers and Jazz will meet at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday. If the Jazz lose and head back to Houston for Game 7, the second round won't begin until Tuesday night. The Lakers - the only team to complete a first-round playoff sweep - will have at least five days off between games and possibly seven.
But the players aren't worried about any rust accumulating from the long layoff.
"It doesn't really matter to us," said Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who sat out Wednesday's practice along with Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol. "We have time here to kind of get together and work on some things and shoot and get even more rhythm. That is how you have to look at it. We were playing well in the Denver series and we believe we can play even better and to play better you need practice time."
Although Phil Jackson agrees with needing time to work on fundamentals and let injuries heal, the Lakers coach was more concerned than his players about the length of the break.
"As a coach, you would like them not to have more than three [days]," Jackson said. "There is a certain sense of tension that comes along with playing a lot that you have to get ready for the match, the bout, the contest. And the energy that you summon to play for it, the longer you get away from it, the more you forget about it."
The Lakers went 3-1 against Utah during the regular season and 1-2 against Houston.
They said they have no preference which team emerges from the Jazz-Rockets series, and that included Fisher. But the former Jazz guard conceded a showdown with Utah would be more conflicting on a personal level.
"The emotions will be high considering what took place while I was there and how many things have changed and the way they have changed over this past year," said Fisher, who asked to be released from his contract after last summer to be closer to medical care for his daughter, Tatum. "It will mean a lot to play against the Jazz, but at the same time it will be emotional in a negative way in terms of facing my former teammates and with all the stakes as high as they will be."
Whether that will happen or not will have to wait - something the Lakers are getting used to.
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