OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) For a megastar on a tradition-rich franchise with 16 NBA championships, Kobe Bryant has no problem admitting how the Los Angeles Lakers' shortcomings have popped up repeatedly this season.
Bryant plopped down in a chair courtside at Chesapeake Energy Arena after the Lakers' practice Tuesday and talked shamelessly about their second blowout loss in five days - this one by 29 points - and what it will take to challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference semifinals.
''We're a team that doesn't get down when we get blown out. We've been blown out a bunch of times this season, blown out last series a couple times,'' Bryant said.
''We're used to dealing with that.''
Indeed, Los Angeles suffered five losses by at least 15 points during a shortened regular season and trailed by 28 in a Game 6 loss at Denver in the first round. Yet, the Lakers are still standing - even if they could be teetering on the brink of danger after a 119-90 loss at Oklahoma City on Monday night.
The storied franchise is 2-17 when losing the first two games of a best-of-seven series, and will try to avoid that sort of hole in Game 2 on Wednesday night.
''Everything's fixable. It's just about making adjustments. That's really what the postseason is,'' said Bryant, a five-time NBA champ.
''They came out, took us out back and whooped us. It's on us to make adjustments, to make changes and come back with a better effort - and we will.''
It all starts with providing some resistance to Oklahoma City's pick-and-roll game, which freed up All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant for enough open jump shots that they combined to go 18 for 31 (58 percent) from the field.
''The one thing we have to do, we have to make sure that we give multiple efforts when we're defending the pick-and-roll,'' coach Mike Brown said. ''They do a great job of sprinting out to the ball screen and creating separation. ... When they're sprinting out, we've really got to get on our high horse, we've got to run with them and we've got to make sure that we affect the ball at the point of the screen as opposed for waiting for the ball to come to us.''
While the Lakers were tweaking their game plans to disrupt Oklahoma City's offense and also get their interior tandem of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol better shots in close, the Thunder were downplaying Game 1 as just one win. Yet, they were in a joking mood, too.
Coach Scott Brooks got a laugh out of suggesting that the Thunder - the NBA's most turnover-prone team in the regular season - needed to cut down on their four giveaways from Game 1, one off the NBA playoff record for fewest in a game.
Brooks joined with his players in ridiculing Westbrook for wearing red glasses frames without any lenses and a polo shirt dotted with fish hooks to his postgame news conference.
''I've been knowing how to dress for a while,'' Westbrook insisted, reasoning that he sees better without the lenses in the glasses.
Brooks also compared Kendrick Perkins to the superheroes in the blockbuster ''Avengers'' movie but - on the serious side - said the starting center will be a game-time decision after aggravating a strained muscle in his right hip during Game 1.
''He is as tough as they come and he wants to play, but if he's not ready to play, we won't play him,'' Brooks said, adding that the Thunder would have held him out of Game 1 if they'd have known he was prone to re-injury.
Bryant credited Perkins and his frontcourt teammates for giving Durant and Westbrook room to do damage and said the Lakers must fight through their screens better.
Los Angeles traded away Derek Fisher this season and brought in Ramon Sessions to get 11 years younger at point guard, although Brown said the move wasn't aimed at defense. He suggested that Fisher - who's now a Thunder bench player - was a solid defender while Sessions is still learning to use his teammates on defense.
Either way, the Lakers must find a way to clamp down on the perimeter.
''There's a lot that concerns us from the first game,'' Bryant said. ''We did a lot of things wrong. A lot, a lot of things wrong.''
If their turnaround from the Game 6 blowout to win Game 7 in the opening round shows anything, though, it's that Los Angeles is also equipped with the resiliency to turn a series around.
''The Lakers are as competitive as any team in the league and Kobe is that guy that you always look at, that you say, 'This guy competes every possession,''' Brooks said. ''Every play, he wants to take your heart out.''
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Kobe Bryant
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Los Angeles
- OKLAHOMA CITY