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.
- Chris Paul – again, just wow. He led or tied for the lead among all players in the following categories – points (27), rebounds (13), assists (15), steals (2, tied with Artest), 3-pointers made (2, tied with Artest and Blake), free throws made and attempted (11-11), and free throw percentage (100%, tied with Odom, Fisher, and Landry, though each attempted 4 or less). Oh, and he was doing this… and this… all night long. Do I honestly need to say anything else? I didn’t think so.
- While the game’s MVP is Chris Paul in a landslide, there is also a painfully obvious runner-up – Trevor Ariza. Not only did he finish 2nd on the team in scoring with 19 shots (8-17 shooting), but he did an absolutely incredible job on Kobe. How he was able to hold Bryant scoreless through an entire half (the first time that’s happened in the playoffs since 2004) is beyond me, but it was a ton of fun to watch. Tack on Trevor’s 6 rebounds and 3 assists, and you have a very complete, effective performance from a player whose offensive game routinely makes Hornets fans cringe.
- Third place goes to Carl Landry for another solid offensive performance. Landry made 6 of his 11 shots for a total of 16 points, also adding 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. In fact, his scoring line of 6-11 for 16 points mimics his matchup’s stat line (Gasol), and he out-rebounded him 7-4, which is pretty remarkable. Landry got hit with two terrible, terrible foul calls late in the 4th quarter which resulted in him fouling out of the game, but not before he made his presence felt.
- Though Okafor’s stat line (3 of 7 for 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks) doesn’t look very good, the way that Emeka impacted this game on defense cannot be measured by numbers. I felt like I was watching vintage Okafor from his hot streak earlier on this season, consistently altering shots and forcing all of the Lakers’ big men into difficult looks. Bynum and Odom combined to make just 4 of their 15 combined attempts, and Mek’s defense is no small part of the reason why.
- Belinelli. Ugh. That is all. The link says it all.
- The Hornets’ bench didn’t do much offensively, but it did match the Lakers bench in scoring with 18 points. None of those 18, however, were bigger than the final 5, all coming from Jarrett Jack. Jack made just one of his 6 shots, but the one that he made was his biggest as a Hornet. With New Orleans up 88-86 with the clock running down from 30 seconds, Paul found himself in an iso situation with Kobe. With great D from Bryant, Paul was unable to create a shot for himself, but Jack made a fantastic cut to the basket and turned a last-second pass from CP3 into a 7-foot fade-away jumped in the lane – and nailed it with just 9 seconds left. Jack went on to take all of the team’s final 4 free throws, making the first two that mattered and making one out of two after the Bees already had the win locked up. Off-night for Jack overall, but he came up HUGE when it mattered most. Nothing spectacular from the rest of the bench; Green hit one big three-pointer but didn’t do much else. Gray played well in most of his minutes, making all 3 of his shots en route to 7 points, and also pulled down 3 boards in his 16 minutes. Nothing notable from Smith or Mbenga in their 9 combined minutes.
So who’s ready for Game 5 on Tuesday night? The Hornets head back to LA for a critical swing game for either team – Lakers win and they’re sitting pretty in the driver’s seat, but if the Hornets can steal it then they’ll have a chance to finish off the defending champs at home on Thursday night. Thanks to Game 1, we know this Hornets team is very confident that it can get the job done on the road. Hopefully the Bees can pull out another incredible performance and put themselves in position to shock the world back home in New Orleans on Thursday night! GEAUX HORNETS!