After winning the first two games against the Jazz at home and losing the next two in Salt Lake City, the Lakers fully understand the significance of tomorrow night’s pivotal Game 5, but aren’t about to shy away from the big-game pressure.
“We’re looking forward to getting back out there and competing,” said Derek Fisher. “I think at this level, that’s what you love to do most and sometimes things don’t go the way you plan them to, but you’re always ready to get back out there and compete.”
With the series so close, Derek said that the Lakers need to be ready to play for every second of the 48 minutes they’re on the court.
“There aren’t any letdowns,” said Fisher. “There aren’t any opportunities to take a breath or take a step back and not compete as hard as you can, every opportunity you have. There’s just no margin for error and when you play against a team that prides itself on executing and they play hard and they play physical, your margin for error is even smaller.”
Coach Jackson said that the Lakers worked all season long to secure home court advantage for late-series games like tomorrow’s Game 5. So far in the Second Round, the home team has won a whopping 15 of 16 games.
“We know we have home court advantage,” said Jackson. “We earned it, we worked hard to get it, we feel confident in our home court.”
For Jackson, the key to tomorrow’s game will likely come down to defense and how well the team matches Utah’s physical play.
“I think most of it is about defensively what we have to do as a team,” Jackson said. “A little bit better lane protection and activity level defensively.”
“We know we have to play a little more physical game. That’s one of the things, whether we can or not is the question; do we have the ability to play a little more physical as a basketball team? It’s still something we haven’t seen so we have to be that kind of a team.”
For Pau Gasol, Game 5 is all about establishing momentum heading into a potential series-ending Game 6.
“There’s definitely a little bit of pressure and awareness of the importance of the game—how big this game is and how big it is to make sure that we maintain and sustain that home court advantage because we know hard it is to go into that place (Energy Solutions Arena) and actually get a win,” said the center.