(AFP) – Jun 14, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Kobe Bryant's magic failed to stop the Boston Celtics from reaching the brink of a title, so the Los Angeles Lakers superstar has turned to Harry Potter for some help at breaking Boston's hex.
Bryant read five chapters of the fictional wizard's adventures to his daughters to help cast a spell of forgetfulness about blowing a 24-point lead in a game-four loss to Boston in the National Basketball Association Finals.
"He had more problems with Voldemort than we have dealing with the media after a loss," Bryant said Saturday after practice.
"Everybody is fine. We're ready to go. It's not something where we're down and out. We have a big game to play. We will go from there."
The Celtics lead the best-of-seven series three games to one and can capture their first title since 1986 and record 17th overall with a victory in game five here Sunday. The Lakers must win to force the series back to Boston.
"This season isn't over. It's far from over. We've got to make a series of this," Bryant said.
The Celtics made the most memorable comeback in NBA Finals history to stun the Lakers, stumbling behind early but containing Bryant in the second half of game four after Los Angeles had run wild.
"They made adjustments. The offense got stagnant. The ball was in my hands. I had to make something out of it," Bryant said. "I reached into the hat, couldn't pull a rabbit out."
Harry Potter might help with that, but the Celtics need some work themselves after falling behind so far so fast.
"We have to play better as well. We have some things we have to fix," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "The key for us is to be as desperate as them. They are a pretty mentally tough team and we have to be ready to handle them.
"This is a dangerous team."
Rivers said he will start center Kendrick Perkins and guard Rajon Rondo although both are nursing injuries, Rondo a sore left ankle and Perkins a sprained left shoulder. Perkins did not practice Saturday.
Celtics scoring leader Paul Pierce denied reports he has made plans for knee surgery after the finals following an injury in Boston's game one triumph.
"No one has said anything about surgery," he said. "I really don't know how bad it is. It hasn't gotten too much worse but it hasn't gotten any better."
Pierce could capture his first NBA crown after a decade in the league and would do so in his hometown with a victory Sunday.
"To win it would be special. To win it at home would be unreal," Pierce said. "To win it in your hometown is something people will remember years down the road."
Celtics star Kevin Garnett will be trying to keep calm and cool despite playing in the biggest game of his life with a chance to grab the NBA title that has eluded him for 12 years.
"To be contained and under control is the focus for game five," he said. "If we come out and get a win, I will probably be emotionally drained."
The Lakers have already been through that in dealing with the game four choke.
"You're not embarrassed. You're just upset. It's too hard to get a 24-point lead in the NBA Finals to blow it like that," said Lakers big man Pau Gasol.
"The only way to get over that disappointment is to come out hard and win it. We need to come out physical, be the first team to hit and let them know game five is not going to go that way. There needs to be a sense of urgency."
Guard Derek Fisher likes the Lakers' chances of becoming the first team in NBA Finals history to erase a 3-1 deficit and capture the crown.
"The loss hurt us. But even if we had won the game we would still be looking at game five as a game we have to win," Fisher said after the workout.
"They were a little quieter than normal, not a bad thing. They are getting ready for where they need to be. We still have a great deal of control over what happens next. I think we still have a great opportunity."
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