You guys know the story by now. The Lakers imposed their will in the paint (the Odom/Gasol/Bynum trio finished 18-35 for 48 points), the Hornets turned the ball over too much (15 times which resulted in 18 Lakers points), and the referees did their part to effectively burn the Hornets a few times of their own (most notably, the sequence when Ron Artest shoved CP3 under the basket to take the ball from him and get an easy layup, followed by a good hard foul by Jason Smith on Kobe which was absurdly ruled flagrant). The result was an 18 point Hornets loss, and the end of a tumultuous yet ultimately positive season. No recap after the jump, because I know that no one wants to read about how their favorite team just died; instead, you’ll find a brief send-off to your 2010-11 New Orleans Hornets.
The Hornets try to stave off elimination against the Lakers tonight in the Hive. For the Hornets to stand a chance, it all comes down to one player- Chris Paul. When CP3 was other-worldly in games 1 and 4, the Hornets won. When he’s merely exceptional (games 2,3, and 5), the Hornets lost. It’s really been that simple. The Hornets have already pushed this Lakers team farther than anyone thought they could. For the Hornets to extend this series one more game, Chris Paul needs to go off.
After the Hornets’ Game 4 victory, Chris Paul said, “When you get to the playoffs, nobody feels sorry for you. Nobody. They don’t care what’s wrong with your ankle, your knee or anything like that. This is what players are made of.” Apparently, Kobe Bryant didn’t get that memo. Isn’t it ironic that while one team’s star refuses to make excuses or complain about any injuries that he has suffered, the other team’s star is parlaying a small ankle roll into a total catastrophe so that he can play rhe role of hero? Honestly, after watching Kobe throw those two dunks down last night, if ONE person really believes that his “injury” was in any way serious, I’d really love to hear your argument. Yeah, he “refused treatment” on his ankle, but it wasn’t to keep himself from knowing what he had done to it; it was to keep everyone else from knowing he actually hadn’t done much of anything to it. That’s the difference between yourself and CP3, Mr. Bryant – while you’re making excuses, he’s playing through it all without saying a word, no matter what problems he’s dealing with or what challenges he’s up against.
Sorry guys, I had to get that out; anyway, on to the game. Much like game 3, the Lakers took advantage of almost every advantage that most people expected them to hold heading into this series. After the jump, I discuss Lakers’ three keys to victory, and then I’ll get into some individual player notes.
A guest preview from a friend of the HoopDat blog, Mark Seither. Thanks to Mark for this excellent piece!
How to Win Game 5
There was a point not too long ago when most Hornets fans would have said it would take a miracle to beat the Lakers, but now, with the series tied 2-2, maybe a miracle won’t be necessary to secure a victory. The first four games of the series have painted a clear picture of what it will take for the Hornets to advance to the next round.
The Hornets, fresh off a dramatic game 4 win, travel to L.A. to take on the Lakers in a critical game 5. Yes, the two-time defending champs have been in this situation before- just last year, the Lakers were tied 2-2 and looked completely disinterested in their first round series against the Thunder, and they went on to roll to a second consecutive title. However, they’ve never faced a player like Chris Paul, who has consistently had his way with the Lakers defense. It hasn’t mattered if they’ve sent double teams, triple teams, traps, switched on pick and rolls, etc… CP3 has found a way to beat this Lakers defense.
Wow. There have been Hornets games in the past where I have felt lucky to have been in attendance, but none of them can compare to this game. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the night that Chris Paul just had; the man dominated in absolutely every phase of the game. I am truly blessed to have been able to watch the clinic that CP3 put on first-hand, and I sincerely hope that each of you were at least able to watch the game on TV. You may not see a performance quite like that one for a long time. Notes on the Hornets’ biggest home victory since 2008 after the jump.
After the Lakers flat out out-muscled us in game 3, the Hornets look to even the series at 2-2 against the Lakers tonight in the Hive. Just like Game 2, the Hornets played a sloppy, disjointed game but still had a chance to win until the middle of the fourth quarter.
When the Hornets and Lakers began this series, I’m pretty sure that game 3 is a textbook example of what most people expected to happen every game. New Orleans got absolutely zero production out of their 2-guards, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom caused HUGE mis-matches inside, and the Lakers exploited those mismatches to cruise to a victory in which the Hornets couldn’t get closer than 4 points at any point after the 7-minute mark in the first quarter. Even more disheartening is the fact that all of New Orleans’ other starters besides Belinelli actually had very solid games on the offensive end, but the things we all expected to hurt this Hornets team are what actually killed them in Game 3. Notes on the loss after the jump.