And with the Lakers dropping Games 5 and 6 against Denver after opening a 3-1 series lead, Game 7 is what we get, promising to make for a raucous Saturday evening at STAPLES Center.
“It’s a one-game series, a final,” said Pau Gasol. “You win you move on, and the good thing is we play at home. We have to do whatever it takes to win.”
Everybody knows that Kobe Bryant will be ready – he dropped 31 points in Game 6 despite a bad case of gastroenteritis, only added to his legacy of always bringing it. But Gasol (three points, three rebounds) and Andrew Bynum (who did grab 16 rebounds) struggled to match Bryant’s energy, something that both bigs, Kobe, and really everybody else said is simply not acceptable in Game 7.
“We have to rely on aggressiveness, energy, owning every possession regardless of our experience,” added Gasol. “We have to want it more than they do.”
In franchise history, the Lakers have played 23 Game 7′s, going 15-8 in such contests (13-7 in Los Angeles, 2-1 in Minneapolis).
In Game 7 home games, however, the Lakers have been almost flawless, going 14-1 all-time (12-1 Los Angeles, 2-0 Minneapolis), the lone loss coming to Boston in the 1969 Finals (108-106).
The last Game 7 at STAPLES Center came in the 2010 NBA Finals against those same Celtics, with L.A. winning 83-79 behind a furious effort led by four starters that remain in purple and gold: Bryant, Gasol, Bynum and Metta World Peace, who returns to the fray after serving a 7-game suspension (and his teammates couldn’t be happier to have him back for such a winner-take-all game).
L.A. also won a home Game 7 against Houston in the 2009 Western Semi’s, in which they won easily, 89-70. The last Game 7 loss, and the only one of Bryant’s career, came at Phoenix in the 2006 First Round.
Tip off is at 7:30 p.m. – we’ll see you there.