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NBA Notebook: Lakers answer critics

Associated Press
The NBA notebook …
LOS ANGELES ó Sunday the Los Angeles Lakers got torched by Houston.
Then they got torched in the court of public opinion.
Tuesday night, they took the first step back toward respectability, running the Rockets off of Upset Road with a never-in-doubt 118-78 victory.
As most expected, the Lakers regained control of the Western Conference semifinals, 3-2.
“We know it’s time to man-up or else it’s going to be golf time,” said Rockets’ forward Shane Battier, held to five points in Game 5 after scoring 23 in Houston’s 99-87 win Sunday.
The Lakers have been criticized for failure to sustain mental toughness throughout playoff series, and Kobe Bryant said he’ll demand that younger players come out focused in Game 6 tonight.
“Every game, you’ve got to rebuild your momentum,” he said. “It doesn’t carry over. You’ve got to re-establish what you’re trying to do out there on the floor. The energy and effort we played with (in Game 5) is not going to be enough.”
MAGIC-CELTICS
ORLANDO, Fla. ó Dwight Howard wants the ball more. Stan Van Gundy is telling fans not to panic, and some Orlando Magic players think their series with Boston should already be over.
Orlando seems to be teetering on a Magic Meltdown.
Howard met with Van Gundy and apologized Wednesday ó but did not retract his statements ó after publicly challenging the coach’s strategy in their Game 5 collapse. The Magic center even added another bold comment as the Celtics look to close out Orlando in Game 6 tonight and move on to the Eastern Conference finals.
“We can’t give up hope,” Howard said Wednesday. “We’re in this series to win it. We are going to win this series.”
That will take quite a turnaround.
It was the second time during these playoffs Howard has questioned why the Magic coach doesn’t run more of the offense through him.
ALL-NBA TEAM
NEW YORK ó LeBron James is a unanimous selection to the All-NBA team after leading the Cavaliers to a franchise-record for wins and a pair of playoff sweeps.
Joining him on the first team are Dwyane Wade of the Heat, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers, Dirk Nowitzki of the Mavericks and Dwight Howard of the Magic.
James was second in the league in scoring at 28.4 points.
Wade made the All-NBA first team for the first time after leading the league in scoring. Howard was picked for the second time, and Bryant and Nowitzki were each picked for the fourth time.
DALY FUNERAL
DENVER ó Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle arrived at Pepsi Center about an hour before tip-off Wednesday night after returning from South Florida where he served as a pallbearer at Hall of Fame coach Chuck Daly’s funeral.

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