Originally posted on Bloguin Best  |  Last updated 5/21/12

Two of the Lakers' three losses in their Western Conference Semifinals series against the Thunder have come down to key turnovers at inopportune times.

The latest was an interesting cross-court pass from Pau Gasol that Kevin Durant intercepted, setting up his go-ahead 3-pointer that proved to be the difference in teh fourth quarter. Gasol, a typically skilled passer, made that dangerous pass at the worst possible moment for the Lakers. The margin for error in a tie game and down 2-1 was extremely small for the homestanding Lakers. They really had their chance to tie the series and push the heavily favored Thunder a little more.

This series though has continued to show what both Los Angeles and Oklahoma City are made of mentally. It is when things go wrong that this part of a team's character is truly revealed.

Trailing by seven with two minutes left in Game Two, Oklahoma City rallied and took the lead. Late turnovers doomed Los Angeles. Oklahoma City is showing that it is a mentally strong team that can take on playoff trials.

The Lakers, the team supposedly with the experience to withstand any Playoff storm, is left pointing fingers and trying to figure out how to climb out of a 3-1 hole. If you want to look at the tone of Los Angeles' comments after the Game Four loss, you might suggest that the Lakers are starting to break at the seams.

Kobe Bryant took his postgame availability to challenge teammate Pau Gasol to be more aggressive late in games. After all, if Bryant passes you the ball late in a game and defers to you, you better be ready to deliver. So far, Gasol has not taken on the same goat status that, say, Steve Blake did. But if there is not a more aggressive Gasol in Game Five, the Lakers will be going home in the second round for the second straight year.

"Pau's got to be more assertive," Bryant said after the Game Four loss. "He's the guy they're leaving [open]. When he's catching the ball, he's looking to pass. He's got to be aggressive. He's got to shoot the ball or drive the ball to the basket. He will be next game.

"He's looking to swing the ball too much. He's got to take his shot."

Gasol is a veteran player, and he is not going to focus on one mistake (as costly as it might have been at the end of the game). He may take the constructive criticism from his teammate and build that into his gameplan to attack in Game Five. Then again, Gasol and Bryant have won two titles together and this just might be the natural ending of their relationship when it comes to winning championships.

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