|ESPN.com: NBA Playoffs 2012||[Print without images]|
“The No. 3-seeded Lakers host the No. 6-seeded Denver Nuggets on Sunday (12:30 p.m. PT, ABC) and enter the playoffs with redemption on the mind after being swept in the second round a season ago by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks. "I think we're well aware that we need to come out here and make a statement with the first game," said Bynum, one of the seven players that were on the team a year ago when the Lakers opened up the first round with a foreboding 109-100 loss to the New Orleans Hornets. "We need to win it in a good way." The Lakers had an extended film session on Friday to review the tendencies of the speedy Nuggets, who led the league in scoring averaging 103.7 points per game. Lakers coach Mike Brown also used the time to introduce the mantra he wants his team to heed throughout the playoffs. "The biggest message from me for our guys, we just want to make sure that we understand two things: the next play, and then covering for one another while we're communicating," Brown said. "If we do that throughout this playoffs, that applies to anybody that we play, it will help us tremendously." While Brown's plan is to keep his team focused on one step at a time, the coach admitted that Kobe Bryant's quest for a sixth championship ring has permeated throughout the team. "It was the first thing he mentioned to me when we met," Brown recalled. "He's (reminded me) in the beginning (of the season), the middle and lately. He wants that sixth ring. That's what he plays for. He plays for championships." A subdued Bryant was asked if it would be a disappointment if the Lakers did not win the championship this year. "Of course," Bryant said. "That's the only reason why we play." Brown agreed. "We have a standard that we set for ourselves, or a goal that we set for ourselves and that's win 16 games," Brown said. "If we don't win 16 games, we're going to be disappointed." Ramon Sessions said he was excited to be playing in the first playoff game of his five-year career on Sunday, but even his enthusiasm included a tinge of Bryant's will. "He's determined to get one thing," Sessions said. "That's what we're going to start (Sunday) and hopefully, we get that one thing he wants." Lakers co-captain Pau Gasol, who took the brunt of the blame for the Lakers' early playoff exit a year ago, seemed confident that the problems that plagued last year's team would not seep into this postseason, noting the "good chemistry" on the roster. "Anything can happen in these playoffs, so you just got to play and want it," Gasol said. "Want it more than anybody else, and go after it. If we do that from Game 1, set a tone from the beginning, make sure we take a step forward each and every possession, each and every game, and grow as we move forward, we have a good chance." Added Bryant: "I'm eager to get it going and see how we do."
I think we're well aware that we need to come out here and make a statement with the first game. We need to win it in a good way.” -- Andrew Bynum