Kobe is upset

If the Los Angeles Lakers got caught looking too far ahead, they’d now be wise not to peer too deep into their past. This is about living in the moment. This is about how the Lakers lost something between Hollywood and here, and how these Western Conference finals have suddenly turned stone serious. Eyes aflame, jaw locked, Kobe stared into the cameras late Tuesday and narrowed his gaze to a Game 5 some 44 hours away in Los Angeles. “We have to play with a sense of urgency,” he said, “and understand this team can beat us.”
Kobe’s words were terse and clipped, and his eyes simmered behind them. His message was unmistakably clear: No longer should the Lakers expect a smooth road to the NBA Finals. The past few weeks had swelled the Lakers’ confidence. No more. They arrived here up 2-0 and jetted home with the series reduced to a best-of-three. The Phoenix Suns have their attention.
No one knows that better than Bryant. Four years ago, he and the Lakers carried a 3-1 first-round lead into Game 5 against the Suns. They lost and went on to drop the series. The Suns ran over the Lakers again the following year, spurring Bryant to issue an edict to the franchise: Get me help or trade me.
At the time, the two losses to Phoenix stained Bryant’s résumé. He won three championships with Shaquille O’Neal, but Shaq had been traded. Everyone wanted to know: Can Kobe lead his own team to a title?.
Bryant, however, didn’t want to hear about the past, and that’s why he started to set the tone for Game 5 before the Lakers even reached the loading dock. He had spent part of the game barking at teammates, and now his anger was continuing to rise as he sat at the dais. Each question about the Suns’ zone was swatted away with a criticism of his own team’s defense. Asked how he was feeling, Bryant deadpanned: “Jovial.”
Bryant marched off and made the long walk down a pair of hallways to the team’s bus. He was surrounded by security. He wasn’t smiling. This was the look of a man who had seen enough. The Lakers were losing their grip on the series, and Kobe needed to take charge.
Forget the past. Don’t worry about the Finals. All that matters is now. The Lakers aren’t cruising through the playoffs anymore. They’ve found a fight.

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