- Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com
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There wasn't much time to celebrate with just one day off between Game 7 against the Nuggets on Saturday and Game 1 against the Thunder on Monday.
Rather than use Sunday for rest, or practice, the Lakers had a 1,300-mile flight to Oklahoma City to make.
"It does seem rushed," said Lakers coach Mike Brown following his team's shootaround Monday. "That's OK. This whole season felt rushed."
Kobe Bryant, a 16-year veteran who has been to the playoffs 15 times in his career, said he could not remember ever going from one series to the next so fast before.
"This season, with the shortened season and it being a compacted schedule, games seem to come pretty quickly," Bryant said Monday.
The lockout-shortened regular season managed to squeeze in 66 games in 124 days. Oklahoma City, the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, finished with a 47-19 record that was six games better than the Lakers, the No. 3 seed.
As quick as the turnaround seemed for the Lakers going from the first round to the Western Conference semifinals, at least there is a day off between Game 1 and Game 2 on Wednesday. The same can't be said about between Games 3 and 4. When the series shifts back to L.A., the Lakers and Thunder will play a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday at the Staples Center.
"It's our reward for playing a compacted season," Bryant said about Games 3 and 4, with more than a hint of sarcasm in his voice.
The Los Angeles Clippers, who also went to seven games in the first round with the Memphis Grizzlies before advancing to face the San Antonio Spurs, will also play a back-to-back in their series at Staples Center on Saturday and Sunday.
"I'm happy for the city of L.A.," said Brown, before adopting a bit of Bryant's sarcasm when assessing the situation. "I got to speak to my man Timothy Leiweke and AEG. They got to do a better job. Get a better floor in that building, or something."
Leiweke is the president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, the company that owns the Staples Center and is a partial owner of the Lakers.
"I got problems with you, Tim Leiweke and (AEG president of global marketing) Todd Goldstein and all my buddies over there," Brown added with a laugh.
While Brown blamed Leiweke and AEG, Staples Center's full plate hosting three professional sports franchise in the playoffs isn't the lone reason for the back-to-backs that the Lakers and Clippers will play. Both teams were up 3-1 in their first round series and went to seven games. Had they closed out sooner, the scheduling issue was not as likely to occur. Also, the real culprit was the NBA lockout. When the league released the compacted 2011-12 schedule in December once the lockout was lifted, it acknowledged the possibility of back-to-back games in the second round of the playoffs at the time.
Still, none of that is solace for Brown who feels like the Lakers' home-court advantage in Games 3 and 4 has now become compromised.
"I know, for me, I'd rather have a day in between to rest and game plan and all that other stuff," Brown said. "But, it can't happen, so, hey, let's play."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
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