LOS ANGELES — Down 3-2 in the NBA Finals against an old foe that keeps finding new ways to beat them, the Lakers are going to need a big Hollywood ending to escape this jam with another championship.
That's exactly where they'll make their last stand against the Celtics.
Game 6 tonight is at the Staples Center, where the Lakers are 9-1 in the postseason, with everybody from Kobe Bryant to the bedraggled bench playing with more passion and confidence.
"If you look at it, they've come home and carried the 3-2 lead back," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "It's basically home court, home court. Now we're going back to home court to win it. That's the way it's supposed to be, isn't it?"
But two straight losses in Boston led to a series deficit for the Lakers, who hadn't trailed in any playoff series this season. The Celtics have won three of the past four games, and they're responsible for Los Angeles' only home loss of the playoffs.
Yet Jackson and Bryant didn't seem particularly worried before they headed out on their final cross-country flight of the postseason. Throughout a season filled with injuries and big-game setbacks since a Christmas Day loss to Cleveland, the Lakers have been able to rise when they absolutely needed to.
Jackson even described the Lakers locker room as "spirited" after losing Game 5 in their lowest-scoring performance of the postseason in the 92-86 loss. For all their struggles in Boston, the Lakers realize they only have to defend their home court to win their 16th title.
"We have a challenge, obviously, down 3-2," said Bryant, who had 38 points in Game 5 while his teammates managed only 48. "We let a couple opportunities slip away, but it is what it is. Now you go home, you've got two games at home that you need to win, and you pull your boots up and get to work."
IZZO MUM: Tom Izzo wouldn't even tell one of his young campers if he wants to coach the Cavaliers or stay at Michigan State.
Izzo was at his basketball camp in East Lansing, Mich., when a boy tried to get the scoop, inquiring about the coach's interest in jumping to the NBA.
"Bad question," Izzo said. "Those guys up there want to know that."
Cleveland wouldn't mind an answer, either. But Izzo had nothing new to say, declining comment to two reporters.
COACH'S APPEAL: Now that he finally has his chance to be an NBA head coach, Larry Drew knows his new job will be a lot easier if he still has Joe Johnson on the team.
Drew, who spent six years as top assistant to former coach Mike Woodson, wasted no time making his pitch to the free-agent-to-be.
"I think my hiring should be a plus," Drew said when he was formally introduced as the Hawks coach. "I'm a guy who's already been in here, who already knows the players, who already has a feel for the team. The things I'm talking about putting in are going to enhance Joe's game even more."