WE SHALL RETURN
The Lakers, who have won 16 NBA titles, have been eliminated in the second round the last two seasons.
“Come hell or high water, we're going to be there again,” Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said in the early morning hours Tuesday after his 42 points weren't enough to conquer the Thunder in Game 5. “It's kind of unfamiliar territory. I'm really not used to it. It's pretty odd for me. I'm not the most patient of people and the organization's not extremely patient either. We want to win and win now. I'm sure we'll figure it out. We always have and I'm sure we will again.”
What do the Lakers need to catch up to the Thunder?
“I don't know,” Bryant said. “It's tough to really process exactly what we need with improvements and what area we need to improve on. But that's something that we'll definitely think through and we've really been great at as an organization. Mitch (Kupchak, Lakers general manager) has really done a phenomenal job this past decade in building title teams pretty quickly. We just have to do it again.”
Bryant on what lies ahead for the aging Lakers: “I'm not fading into the shadows, if that's what you're asking. I'm not going anywhere. We're not going anywhere. It's not one of those things where the Bulls beat the Pistons and the Pistons disappeared forever. I'm not going for that (stuff).”