Suicide lines: Lakers believe; Celtics shake it off

Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your peanut butter M&Ms.

Mark Medina, L.A. Times: "Hours leading into what could've become an elimination game, the Lakers visualized the outcome going in their favor. The team's morning shootaround included a meditation session, an approach Lakers Coach Phil Jackson typically holds to help calm his player's nerves, increase their spirituality and anticipate the challenges ahead. The Lakers firmly believed they could win out heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Boston because of their talent level, experience,home-court advantage and level-headed demeanor that's been constant through the wins and losses. So even if the team immediately kept that mindset following its Game 5 loss to Celtics, the meditation session at least ensured the Lakers' attitude stayed intact. Hours later, the Lakers' 89-67 Game 6 victory Tuesday over Boston ensured the series to last seven games, a length not even Jackson experienced during his storied Finals experience. Fortunately for the Lakers, they already saw it coming. 'You just visualize yourself winning the game and doing what you have to do,' Lakers center Andrew Bynum(notes) said. 'That'll pay off for us in the future because you've visually been there before. Once you're in it, you can see yourself playing well.'"

Julian Benbow, Boston Globe: "The Celtics were thinking about Game 7 in the second quarter of Game 6. Last night's beating was that severe. When Lamar Odom(notes) picked off a Paul Pierce(notes) pass and launched it upcourt to Jordan Farmar(notes) for a fastbreak dunk, the Celtics found themselves trailing, 45-25. There were still nearly 30 minutes of basketball left. Backs against the wall, the Lakers were as dominant as they were desperate and all the Celtics could do was watch. Their 31-point first half effort was one short of a NBA record low. Their 67 points were not only their lowest in a postseason game, but it tied for the second-lowest Finals total since the advent of the shot clock in 1955. They were dealt one of their worst losses of the postseason, or as Glen Davis(notes) put it, 'We got our [butts] kicked. But the beating was so thorough,' Celtics coach Doc Rivers said, 'We had enough time to get over it.' From the start, it was a disaster. The Celtics offense flatlined, their defense crumbled, the bench was all but invisible, their starting center left with a knee injury that could end his season prematurely. At the end of it all the Celtics went from having a chance to close out the series to an 89-67 blowout loss to reeling into a Game 7. Seemingly in an enviable position returning to Los Angeles leading the NBA Finals, three games to two, the Celtics will now have to win the deciding game on the road, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since 1978 when the Washington Bullets went into Seattle Center Coliseum and beat the SuperSonics. The Finals have only seen four Game 7s since. Aware of the task in front of his team, Kevin Garnett(notes) said, 'We have no choice.'"

Mark Murphy, Boston Herald: "From the slow process of helping to carry Kendrick Perkins(notes) off the floor in the first quarter to the Celtics center's trip for an X-ray, the evidence doesn't sound good to his teammates. Perkins' diagnosis may be a sprained right knee that will be re-evaluated today, but Ray Allen(notes) sounded like he was saying goodbye last night. 'It's terribly unfortunate,' said the Celtics guard following the 89-67 loss to the Lakers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. 'You hate to see that (happen to) anybody, if it was this team or the other team. But we have to do this for him. We have to push forward, and there are guys on the bench that can step up and make the plays that Perk is capable of, or has made over the course of our time here. So you know, it does make Glen (Davis) more valuable, and Rasheed (Wallace) will play more minutes and definitely Shelden (Williams) will be in there a lot more,' said Allen. 'We're going to be counting on them.'"

Mark Whicker, Orange County Register: "Kendrick Perkins, if he misses Game 7 or is impaired in any significant way, is a big loss for Boston. Forget the stats. Without him, Glen Davis has to play starter's minutes, and he can't do a lot with Lamar Odom if Odom is properly moved to play. Plus, it means Kevin Garnett has to handle Pau Gasol(notes) without reaching foul trouble, because the next 'big,' Shelden Williams(notes), is out of his weight class in this competition."

Janice Carr, Orange County Register: "After failing to reach a couple of rebounds in the second half, Andrew Bynum knew he couldn't continue playing on his troubled right knee. So for the first time since the NBA Finals started, Bynum gave into the pain and asked Phil Jackson to take him off the floor less than two minutes into the third quarter. He remained on the bench as the Lakers finished off the Celtics, 89-67, in Game 6 at Staples Center. 'A couple of rebounds I couldn't get to because I couldn't pick my leg up,' said Bynum, who had two points and four rebounds in his 16 minutes. 'With the (big) lead, I saw it as an opportunity to rest.' Bynum left the game with the Lakers holding a comfortable 51-33 lead on the Celtics, who also was missing their center, Kendrick Perkins. Perkins left the game in the first quarter because of a strained right knee. 'He wasn't able to move very fluidly the second half,' Jackson said. 'He had some tightness in the back of his leg and he just said "You've got to take me out. I can't run." It was obvious at that point he couldn't.' Jackson said Bynum had swelling in the back of his leg and will have to have intense therapy before Thursday's Game 7. Bynum agreed, saying, 'I'm playing Game 7, no matter what.'"

Howard Beck, New York Times: "The portrait of a defending champion too stubborn to let go came in many guises Tuesday night: Pau Gasol absorbing hard fouls, and standing tall. Jordan Farmar skidding across the floor for loose balls, and winning them. And in the midst of it all, Kobe Bryant(notes), shooting fire from his eyes and redemption from his fingertips. Playing under the comfort of 15 banners, including the one they raised last fall, the Los Angeles Lakers regained their swagger and routed the Boston Celtics by 89-67, tying the N.B.A. finals at three games apiece. The Celtics were denied the chance to claim the title. But someone will celebrate a championship here Thursday night. It will be the first Game 7 in the finals since 2005 - when the San Antonio Spurs beat the Detroit Pistons - and just the second in 16 years. 'It's really a high-tension situation,' Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. In this series, between these age-old rivals, there could be no other way. Bryant carried his team's spirit but this time did not have to carry the Lakers with his scoring. He paved the way with 26 points and 11 rebounds but got ample support from Gasol (17 points), Ron Artest(notes) (15 points), a lively bench and persistent team defense. The Celtics' point total tied for the second lowest in a finals game in the shot-clock era. So the Lakers need one victory to win their first back-to-back titles since 2001-2. The Celtics need one victory to validate the title they won two years ago, which came at the Lakers' expense. The conclusion will be tense. 'It's definitely not just another game,' said Gasol. 'It's a crucial game, obviously, like it was tonight. Luckily, we play at home. And we want to carry everything that we did right tonight to it. And then I think we'll be in a very good place to win.'"

Ryan Wolstat, Toronto Sun: "The most surprised person to hear that Jarrett Jack(notes) wanted to be traded away from the Raptors was the man in question himself. 'I hadn't even heard of it until (Monday),' Jack told reporters at the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday. Rumours had been making the rounds that, unhappy with his role in Toronto, Jack had asked GM Bryan Colangelo to move him. '(Colangelo) actually brought it to my attention. I was wide-eyed a little bit,' Jack said. 'I'm up here on my own merit. If I wanted a trade I doubt I'd be flying up here to work out. I don't know where that came from. It never came from my end, and he said it never came from his either, so we don't know where it came from.' Jack did express some frustration with the way he was used last season, saying he thought he would play more at shooting guard, alongside Jose Calderon(notes). Jack played more minutes than Calderon and the fourth-most on the team, but said he would have liked to combine with Calderon more often. 'It's up to the coaching staff, (but) there were situations where we maybe could have played more together or switched up the rotation,' he said."

Julian Garcia, New York Daily News: "As Avery Johnson was being introduced as the new coach of the Nets Tuesday, Devin Harris(notes) stood off to the side wearing a smile. Then halfway through the televised press conference, Harris grabbed a microphone and asked Johnson a question. Even though Harris got a serious answer, neither the query nor what Johnson said in response to it mattered much. The important thing was that Harris was there, cutting short a vacation to Turks & Caicos to show support for his new coach. What a long way Harris and Johnson have come since their days bickering in Dallas, where both started a journey that they hope ends with helping the Nets go from laughingstock to contender. Giving Johnson's hiring his full approval, Harris said he expects their time with the Nets to be similar to the way it was in Dallas, winning included. 'It's not like we didn't like each other,' Harris said. 'We butted heads, and we'll still butt heads going forward. But it's all about winning, and that's something we both respect.' Johnson appreciated the support from Harris and Brook Lopez(notes), who also attended. 'Anytime a coach takes over and players can disrupt their summer schedule to come in for a press conference, it means a lot,' said Johnson. 'And not only Devin, but Brook. Brook doesn't really know me. He's only heard the mean things about me.' Johnson vowed to give Harris more control of the team's offense, one of the issues that caused friction between player and coach during their time together in Dallas, which ended when Harris was traded to the Nets in the Jason Kidd(notes) deal late in the 2007-08 season. Following a first-round playoff ouster 2-1/2 months later, Johnson was fired by the Mavericks. Tuesday, he said one of his goals is to bring the Nets to where he was with Dallas in 2006: the Finals. That won't be an easy task since Johnson is taking over a team that went 12-70 this season. 'We can go from worst to first,' Johnson said."

Jason Quick, The Oregonian: "For the first time since his job status came into question three months ago, Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard on Tuesday went on the offensive. In a move that was part spontaneous, part strategic, Pritchard told reporters following a workout of draft prospects that he was aware owner Paul Allen was conducting a search for general manager candidates, but that he intended on fighting to keep his job. 'Do your job, do your search,' Pritchard said, referring to Allen's company, Vulcan Inc. 'May the best man win.' It was an abrupt change in strategy for Pritchard, who has remained quiet and reserved since mid-March, when his agent, Warren LeGarie, said the firing of Tom Penn, Pritchard's right-hand man, signaled that Pritchard was on shaky ground. Shortly after LeGarie's prediction, Pritchard was told he was no longer welcome to sit next to Allen at Blazers home games. And on June 5, Yahoo Sports reported Allen had hired a head-hunting firm to identify candidates for Pritchard's job. Given multiple opportunities to dispute the report, no one in the Blazers organization has done so. Allen, through a spokesperson, said he would not comment on personnel decisions until they were made. He also declined to answer questions about Pritchard, including why he asked him not to sit with him at games."

Rick Bonnell, Charlotte Observer: "The obvious question is why? Why would a guy with Darius Miles'(notes) money, who's been out of basketball more than a year, who suffered a knee injury so severe it was declared career-ending, show up for a free-agent camp? Simple, Miles said: He has a 2-year-old son who never saw him play. He'd like the kid to have that memory. He's healthy - healthier than he's been in years - and the Charlotte Bobcats seem genuinely interested. Larry Brown has spent a decade telling 6-foot-9 combo forward Miles how much he'd like to coach him. It was like a mantra: 'Darius ... How are you? ... Wanna be on my team?' Miles doesn't pretend to be the freakish athlete that once made him the third pick of the 2000 draft. But he doesn't need all that for a team searching for affordable options at the end of the bench. Miles said he's reinventing himself as a player. It sounds similar to what former Charlotte Hornet Larry Johnson did after his back wore out. The Johnson who finished his career as a New York Knick wasn't nearly such a physical force, but what he lost in explosion, he compensated for with refinement. 'Those injuries, they make you mature,' Miles said after the first of three days in a free-agent minicamp at Time Warner Cable Arena. 'They make your game mature - they make you work on other things. I had a God gift and never thought it would be taken away from me. I probably would have never worked on my jump shot - never! - because I could always get to the basket and jump higher than everybody else. But it got to a point where you can't do that no more.'"

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