Lakers size too much for Hornets to handle in Game Two

Published: April 21, 2011

For three days, the focus has been on whether or not the Lakers could get Pau Gasol more involved, while few mentioned the subpar showings Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum had in the first game of this series. Pau struggled yet again in game two, but the Lakers evened the series with the Hornets due to the immensely efficient performances by Bynum and the newly crowned 6th man of the year Lamar Odom. The two combined for 33 points on 16 of 23 shooting in LA’s 87-78 victory over the Hornets.

The focus for LA was clear from the start, as they made every effort to get the ball into the post on the opening possessions. Bynum got the ball early and often, as he was successful in both scoring on the low block and in getting Emeka Okafor into foul trouble. Much like the first game, Okafor picked up two fouls early on and spent almost all of the first half on the bench. While Bynum was a beast on the block, Odom provided the spark that the Lakers so desperately needed. Down by as many as eight late in the first quarter, Odom came in and scored 6 points during a 9-1 Lakers run that tied the score at 23 after one quarter.

LA’s size was just too much in this game, as they out-rebounded the Hornets by 8 and outscored them in the paint by 18. It was what everybody expected coming into this series, but that does not mean that the Hornets did not have several opportunities to win this game. The Hornets were absolutely atrocious from the free throw line, the shooting guard position was a black hole, and the Hornets turned the ball over at an unusually high rate. If any or all of those things played out differently, we might be talking about the Hornets taking two games in LA. But they didn’t. As for individual efforts:

Chris Paul

CP3 is the best player in this series. No doubt about it. The problem is that the Lakers have the next four best players and CP3 can only do so much to overcome that. He scored 20 points on just 11 shots and had a 9:1 assist to turnover ratio. Very impressive considering that LA was running guys at him all night. I know most think that CP3 has to be more aggressive, but he made the right decisions tonight, he just didn’t get contributions from teammates. Aaron Gray and Willie Green went 10-12 on Sunday. They were 3 for 10 tonight taking very similar shots. Not much CP3 can do about that. I have a feeling that we are in for some special CP3 moments when he gets back home this weekend.

Shooting Guard

Monty did not like what he saw tonight from Willie and Marco, and as a result he was set to go with Jack down the stretch next to Paul. Marco got some looks early but just couldn’t knock them down and later on in the game he forced some bad shots and had a few careless passes. Unfortunately, Willie Green wasn’t any better, as he had back to back turnovers in the third as the Hornets were trying to make a run. Jack was okay, but lacked aggressiveness in the fourth quarter, choosing instead to just get the ball to CP3 and clear out. What I did love about Jack, however, was his willingness to get into Carl Landry’s face after he did not hustle back in transition. Doubt Landry slips again in Game 3 knowing that the Sad Clown will be on his butt if he loafs again.

Trevor Ariza

We wondered who would play the Robin to CP3’s Batman in this game, and it was Trevor who was willing to step up on this night. 22 points and 7 rebounds, but two missed free throws really killed any momentum the Hornets could have had in the fourth. What is really impressive is that this guy covered Kobe for 30+ minutes and didn’t pick up a foul. Also, no turnovers is a bonus. If the Hornets can have this Ariza back in New Orleans, they have a legit shot to win both games.

Other Notes and Observations:

– LA’s two All-Stars go 5-20 and they still win comfortably. That is how good this team can be. How many games do you remember against playoff teams where CP3 and West were horrible, but the Hornets still won by 9?

– Aaron Gray, Jason Smith, and DJ Mbenga played 34 minutes and went 1-5 from the field (2 points) with 3 turnovers and 5 fouls. Would be nice to see how this game would have went if a healthy David West gets those same 34 minutes

– Speaking of Gray, tremendous effort out there, but he is not even close to 100%. There is a noticeable limp that keeps him from getting up and down the court ahead of the Lakers bigs (something he did in game one) and he had trouble tracking a few rebounds down tonight (although he did finish with eight)

– You just gotta feel for Okafor. The guy can’t get through the first television timeout without being in serious foul trouble. Hopefully the refs are a little more lenient in the Big Easy.

– Watch Party had over 300 people tonight!! We are having another Watch party on Friday night- at the Arena! We expect 19,000 of you to be there. Let’s go nuts!


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