Sports 101

David Letterman recently joked, "We should have a winner from the NBA finals sometime around Labor Day." It sometimes feels that way. But after Wednesday night's game, the finals are inching much closer to the end. After the Lakers beat the Pacers 120-118 in overtime in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series, L.A. is only one win away from closing the deal.

Although the Pacers, in their first NBA championship series, won Sunday night's game to cut the Lakers lead in half (2-1), the Lakers now have a huge edge (3-1) over the Pacers. Indiana would have to win the next three games to take the series. Game 5 airs tonight at 9 p.m. on NBC.

Q: Who made the difference in Wednesday's Game 4?

A: Lakers' guard Kobe Bryant, who had missed most of the last two games with an injury. He scored 28 points, including three key baskets in overtime. With 5.9 seconds left, Bryant grabbed a ball that bounced off the rim and with one hand reverse-tipped it in to give the Lakers a 3-point lead and eventually the win.

Q: Doesn't Indiana have one of the best players in the NBA?

A: Yes, but Reggie Miller can't do it alone. Although he scored 35 points, it still wasn't enough for a Pacer's win. Miller missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds of Game 4, and after making 25 straight free throws in this series, Miller finally missed one late in the second quarter.

Q: Do the Pacers still have a legitimate chance?

A: Only a small one. They have history working against them: No team has ever recovered from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA finals.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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