Hornets @ Lakers Game 5: Walking the Razor’s Edge (With Live Chat AND Watch Party!)

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Published: April 26, 2011

And now it’s best of three as the Hornets have already scrapped their way to the most unlikely outcome so far these playoffs. Yes, more unlikely even than Memphis over the Spurs. (Though, wow, that’s pretty crazy too.) McNamara asked me last night if the Hornets pull this off if it will be the biggest upset in the history of the NBA. It’s hard to disagree with that assessment. Two-time champs being unseated by a 7th seed missing their leading scorer? Crazy.

However, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, because last game something happened that could turn this series: Bryant injured his foot at the end of the game. Now, I know a lot of people will see that as a bonus for the Hornets, something that could help them take this thing. I actually feel the exact opposite. If Kobe is slowed, if he is unable to play the way he wants to, if he feels he has to slow down at all, I think that will be the worst possible outcome for the Hornets.

Why? Because the Lakers’ one overwhelming advantage this series has been their big men. It’s not Kobe that’s dictating who wins and loses these games. In fact, his performance has almost no correlation to whether his team wins. When he’s played well, they’ve lost one and won one. When he’s played badly, they’ve lost one and won one. No, it’s been Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom who have dictated this series. When Bynum gets more than 10 shots in a game, they’ve won. When Odom has been aggressive and taken more than a half-dozen shots, the Lakers’ have won.

So forgive me if I’m a little worried about Kobe’s ankle. The more shots that go to his teammates, the more dangerous the Lakers are.

From the Hornets side of things, there’s always that maxim that floats around in sports “As player X goes, so goes team Y”. Personally, I’ve almost always thought it was crap for team sports, but it’s not far wrong in the case of Chris Paul. The Lakers came into this series playing much faster than the Hornets did over the course of the regular season. However, in masterful hands of the Hornets point guard, this series has been played even slower than what the Hornets preferred during the season. Paul keeps the game slow, gets the offense going, refuses to take early shots in the clock, and that helps keep the score close and to limit explosive runs that the Hornets are so susceptible to. It breaks momentum. Makes the fast break impossible. And that’s good, because no matter how deadly Paul may be in transition, the Lakers, with multiple capable ball-handlers, are even more deadly in the open court. The Hornets can’t play that game. Paul knows it, and has generally kept it from happening.

If, however, you want to have one stat to pay attention to, you should keep an eye on his assists in the first half. Paul can get shots whenever he wants, provided he is getting at least a little help from his teammates. When Paul has been nearing double figures in assists at the half, the Hornets have gone on to win, because his teammates were knocking down the open shots he’s been generating. That’s important, because at the end of the game it gives him that little bit of space, that little half-second or half-inch of worry about their own guy from help defenders that he needs to be able to score easily in the fourth.

The Hornets need their support players. It doesn’t need to be one going off big, but they need at least a few to contribute.  If that happens, things will get very interesting.

Enjoy the game!

66 comments
kempleton
kempleton

We gotta beat the refs again just like we did on Sunday. If Lakers are eliminated, NBA will loose a lot of money. Everybody knows this and acts accordingly including the refs as far as I can tell. But, they cannot exaggerate, so you can beat them as well. Just like popmusic said above the refs can set the tone of the game and that tone will always favor Lakers however we should be able to set our tone to win!!!! We lost last night because the Lakers started the final quarter on a 10-2 run and the game was out of reach from there on. We have to beat these 15 men tomorrow (12Lakers players +3 refs) and see what happens in the last game in LA. And Finally, We miss you D-West! Please come out to the game tomorrow! Your teammates will win it for you! PS. What if Brown's elbow throw hit Green's face. Could they get away with a technical only if Green got injured or hospitalized?

Mazon
Mazon

And kobe should have gotten a flagrant for the total close line to the face of okafer. Ps. I hate how kobe was probably the 6th or 7th best performer tonight and he got the majority of the tv time. Would the nba please get of his nuts!

popmusic
popmusic

Brown should have been thrown out of the game or at least a flagrant foul for the elbow he thru and missed. It is just another example of how the Laker's pick their shots. Three minutes into the game and two N.O. timeouts because one of our players is bloodied. Two foulls early in the first quarter on Ariza who is the best defender against Kobe... Big Coinsident???? The Refs didn't lose the game for us but certainly set the uphill tone of the game.

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

The Lakers bitch every single time they brush against the opposing team? Don't believe me? Prove me wrong. They are the whiniest team I've ever seen.

Mazon
Mazon

Like when bynum cried for getting called for an offensive foul after he shouldered okafer and threw and elbow straight towards his face? Lol LA is known for its actors...

QueenBee
QueenBee

That's because they feel a sense of 'entitlement'. They expect things to be given to them and they get it. Like a bunch of spoiled bratty rich kids.

cmac81
cmac81

Pau Gasol has got to be the biggest p**** in the NBA. One minute left, up by 15 and he's still bitching about foul calls.

QueenBee
QueenBee

He gets that from his drama queen coach and teammate.

sweetpea
sweetpea

Quit blaming the refs. Blaming the refs are for wussies like Laker fans Refs sucked in game 4 too .... phantom and blown calls all game long against the Hornets ... but we won. We're losing this game not because of the refs but because we lost focus .... unforgiveably ... after the first quarter and surrendered the piant the entire game. Kobe sitting almost the entire second half and we couldn't get our mental focus and discipline. I think the guys been reading too much of the local media's headlines, because we got punked in the lane tonight.

Mazon
Mazon

You can kill momentum with constant blown calls. Even reggie miller brought it up that landry just wanted a little bit of consistancy. Is it the reason we lost?? No. But it definitely killed any chance we did have.

QueenBee
QueenBee

The refs sucked tonight. They set the tone early. Whether blaming them is for wussies or not, they sucked. A foul on Carl with him arms straight up? Are you kidding? They weren't the total calls but if you don't think they were a big part then I don't know what to tell you. They knew the Lakers could in no way go back to NOLA down 3-2.

Mazon
Mazon

I was more upset with the "offensive fouls" that count as turnovers. If thats blowing the game than I'm proud the hornets played how they did... Did they play a perfect game? No. But sheesh! There were numerous offensive rebounds of the lakers "dominating the glass" when it was simply hornet players being shoved with two hands out of the way.

sweetpea
sweetpea

I hear you Queen Bee, I'm just saying "yeah, the refs sucked and blew calls ... and the sun is going to rise off the East Coast tomorrow." We've all been watching the NBA a long time and one the constant is the refs suck and their calls have no consistency. It literally is the one constant in the NBA. So I just look to other variables. I'm just p**sed off because we had them on the ropes after the 1Q and let them off the hook with turnovers (not the refs fault) and missed assignments keeping guys out the paint. What's up with that???

QueenBee
QueenBee

"his" arms straight up. They weren't the total cause but they contributed their bullshit calls greatly.

Mazon
Mazon

Can someone please get me the phone number or any contact information to the nba?? I really need to ask some serious questions about what the fuck the refs are doing in the game...

Just A Fan
Just A Fan

JJ on floor and we are losing the lead.

Ian H.
Ian H.

I feel this is the game Marco hits 3-5 threes, he is too good a shooter to stay this cold. He is due for a good shooting night, absolutely has to. Right???? The lakers will be caught off guard if that happens. Wishful thinking I guess.

Monty'sDoghouse
Monty'sDoghouse

You are delusional if you think one of the top 5 players and one of the best wing defenders in the NBA being hobbled doesn't help us. Kobe is the only slasher minus maybe a little Shannon Brown on their team. He can get any shot and any where on the floor at any time. Look I get it. He might push the ball down low a little more and that will hurt us. But we also don't have to account for their most explosive weapon if he isn't close to 100%. Help defense? No thanks. Trevor's got this.

BJAH
BJAH

Doghouse, EXACTLY RIGHT!! The Kobe injury is major. It's more than major - it means a team owned by the NBA, with a rookie coach, one star and maybe one or two other players most NBA fans even know - are going to knock the defending champs out of the playoffs. There's no real discusion about it. Kobe is hurt, the Lakers are in a daze and the Hornets will make them pay. New Orleans is moving on -

RobertM320
RobertM320

Wow. The Hawks are having one of those nights like they had against us earlier this year. Orlando 70, Atlanta 45, middle of the 3rd. And Howard only has 7 points! Why couldn't we be in the Eastern Conference?

RobertM320
RobertM320

Is it game time yet? The waiting is killing me. If we pull this series off, I hope we get Dallas. I don't want any more 9:30pm weeknight starts. I need my sleep.

Stefan
Stefan

The Lakers can't have an excuse with Kobe's injury. Did they forget David West is still a Hornet?? We would be 3-1 with West right now.

JaeAmazin
JaeAmazin

We need Marco, Willie, or Jack to have a big game tonight..They're gonna throw the kitchen sink at CP..Hopefully Trev is Still dialed in..Carl is hitting his shots..And Mek slaps a few shots..It's crazy how perfect we have to play to beat the dudes..But two more perfect games and We can start Thinking about something Gold.......Hornets All Day Bitches!!

Hordan
Hordan

I think Kobe is going to take more shots, and here's why: He wants to prove his toughness to the league. He has already tried to show everyone how "tough" he is by refusing testing. I'm telling you, Kobe is going to come out tonight thinking he has something to prove. He's going to try to light it up, and thus not feeding it to the bigs enough.

CP3nBrees
CP3nBrees

CP to DJ connection will lead us to a victory tonight!

kempleton
kempleton

I started driving this morning, turned on the radio "106.7 Old School" (by default) and it was "Lovely Day" from Bill Withers playing! Is this a sign? Is it gonna be a lovely day till the end? I sure hope so! Geaux Hornets! Gimme A LOVELY DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

Holy Cow
Holy Cow

I don't know how much of the Kobe melodrama I'm going to buy into. Not until I see him getting absolutely punked on the defensive will I believe that he is really hobbled. With that said, I totally agree that the Lakers are much more dominant when they get the ball to their big men. I would like to see us start Okafor, Gray, Landry, Ariza and CP3 to set the tone for defending the lane. I think Landry matches up better with Artest and maybe we can get Belinelli some run with the second unit. If I were a Laker fan, (just writing that made me throw up in my mouth) I would be furious about their lack of commitment to pounding the ball inside against a smaller opponent. The best thing that has happened to the Hornets is Kobe, Barnes, et al wanting to be jump shooters. The second best thing that has happened to the Hornets is the Lakers taking the bait and switching their bigs onto CP3. I loved our discipline in game 4 of clearing out as soon as we got the switch and letting Chris break ankles and collect fouls on the Laker bigs. I'll see you guys at the watch party in few hours. Looking forward to some pizza, beer and late night Hornets basketball!

djbrock191
djbrock191

The fact that we are on this site talking bout a game 5 tied series shows how much heart this team has and how much the experts know because this was supposed to be and easy series for the lakers they were gon sweep us and rest up for round 2 and we were just gon roll over and play died. Like Charles says on God is an expert. Like I said since the beginning we can win this series. If we do Dallas and Portland are definitely two teams we are capable of beating but for now let's focus on the lakers. GO HORNETS!!!!!!!!!

420ftjesus
420ftjesus

Kobe is going to play hobbled to a degree. If he's ineffective, I wouldn't count on him tanking the game for the bad guys, however. He was shit in Game 7 against the Celtics last year, and when he started deferring, the game opened up. He knows that. He was there. Our best case is slowed Kobe takes a bit to realize this, with the net effect being a 10 point swing. We'll still need to have a good game to beat these punks into submission, however. Besides, we want to beat the Lakers. Not the Lakers*, or whatever. The Saints victory was so sweet (like Andre the Giant's beignet) in part because they faced 3 of the greatest QB's of all time, and clearly the most formidable playoff collection ever. This is quite an accomplisment for a team whose defense was maligned for years, and would forever stand in the long dark shadow of the titanic Dome Patrol. We need to take advantage of his slowing, but we need to beat the Lakers, the real Lakers.

sweetjazz3
sweetjazz3

Here's what I expect from the Lakers: on offense, after running their usual initial sets for their bigs, Kobe will try to see what he has and what he can do. He wants this to be his Michael Jordan flu game, but he'll tone it back and become a facilitator if he can't get enough spring from his ankle. On defense, I think the Lakers are going to throw everything they have at CP3 and try to beat him up. To me, the way to beat that is to get contributions from our other guards. Jarrett, Marco, and Willie all have been quiet this series so far, but all are capable of making big contributions. None of them can do what CP3 can, but if the Lakers make the Hornets play 4-on-3 without CP3, we can make them pay. I think this game will be more physical than any of the previous four. Are the Hornets prepared for it and will they handle it well? I think Monty will have them prepared and I believe in this team to handle the adversity. If you asked me before the series started whether I thought we could win in LA with the Lakers playing in desperation mode, I would have said no way unless we had incredibly streaky shooting. But with CP3 in hyperdrive and the rest of the team showing so much fight, I believe that we will be able to stay in this ball game until the final minutes. My prediction: some combo of Jack/Green/Bellinelli makes a couple of big shots in the 4th quarter as the Hornets grab a 4 point win and come back to NOLA with a chance to knock out the defending champs!

nicks65
nicks65

I see your point about Kobe's ankle on offense. It could lead to a big disadvantage for us. But what about on defense? Kobe wanted to guard Chris after game one, and while he did slow him down (never stopped) it seems it was detrimental to his offense (score 0 points in first half last game). He almost surely can’t guard Chris and play offense on a bum ankle. That gives them two legit players to guard him, Artest and Fisher. I think we all love those matchups for Chris. Furthermore, if Kobe is really hobbled on offense then maybe we can move belli on to him on D for atleast parts of the game, while keeping Trevor on Artest to partially take away their other huge size advantage. I am not really sure about this, and I don't mean to sound disagreeable. Just thought I would share what I was thinking. In my opinion, this is far from a clear advantage to either team. I think we will have to wait and see.

ur_gmas_daughter
ur_gmas_daughter

Also, on another hand we could leave Kobe at times and bite stronger on the double teams for Gasol and Bynum. Pack the middle, and force Kobe to shoot on the "bum ankle." If he isnt 100% and we force him to be a jump shooter instead of driving to the basket then I think we can take advantage

Michael McNamara
Michael McNamara

You make a good point on the defensive end, although I love when LA puts Kobe on Chris. Bottom line is that if Kobe is hobbled, the Hornets will have to attack and exploit that when they are on offense. Most likely, they will put him on Belly, and that means the Hornets would be wise to run Marco off a 1000 screens to wear Kobe down. I still agree with Ryan, however, that the Lakers are a better offensive team against us when Kobe is an afterthought in the offense. The Hornets won games 1 and 4 because Kobe's pride took over and he got away from the offense. But as you said..... we'll see.

nicks65
nicks65

I keep trying to respond, and all I can say is I agree that the Lakers are a better offensive team when they go inside. Beyond that, however, there are just to many variables at play. I don't know what's going to happen.

Dontae
Dontae

I don't think Kobe's ankle will bother him too much. Not just because he's played through injuries before because it's just sprained. He should be alright on it. Still I really look for Ariza to play great D tonight. If we get this game I really think the Hornets are going to the 2nd round. Maybe even farther.

sweetpea
sweetpea

so anybody seen the awesome new Sports Illustrated cover yet????? Kobe and Bynum grabbing air while CP splits a lane. Pretty .... damn .... sweet.

John B
John B

Interesting article comparing Derrick Rose to Chris Paul in after 3 years in the NBA Most people would think that Rose is better because he is about to win MVP, but this guy makes a pretty good case as to why Paul was actually the better point guard.

andy
andy

I'm most worried about having to play the next 3 games with only a days rest. Seems objectively that Chris has played better this year with 2 days rest, although game 4 was with only 1 day.

djbrock191
djbrock191

To me a hurt kobe is an advantage to us hornets because he has a big ego that let's say if we play them tight the whole game come 4th quarter he feels okay I got to take over and starts jacking up shots trying to do something that his ankle won't allow that puts us in good position. He has to be the star in his mind and I think he doesn't trust Gasol 100% to get it done so that works in our favor, but only if he is really hurt cause he is a drama queen as was evident in game four when CP3 took him to emeril's ate his dinner and left him with the check, he acted like a spurned lover after he got fouled.

westwing
westwing

Kobe no longer plays well enough to have his "big star" attitude. Chris Paul is the new top gun on the court, but he's not arrogant about it.

Juncti
Juncti

Kobe strikes me as the type of person who likes to play up that walking wounded persona. Lot's of players play hurt, but he seems to go out of his way to ham it up. Plus it gives him an out when they lose. Lost game 1, "well I did hit my head", lost game 4, "well my ankle so I couldn't close out the game". Now if they lose the series it will be because he wasn't 100% not because the Hornets won, and if he wins the series the media will gush all over him about how he's a warrior playing through what would be a season ending injury if it happened to any other mere mortal.

cro_CP3
cro_CP3

I'll take anything what the media says if we win the series, don't care if we go to the 2nd round (which is impossible to think about don't know why, it would be a MAJOR SHOCK) then I DON'T care what ESPN, NBA, YAHOO etc. SAY, GO NOLA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Adam
Adam

I said the exact same thing to all of my friends recently. Media + NBA Stars = Melodrama

Bug Marley
Bug Marley

Beat LA. Also, on Latin Nights, maybe they should wear jerseys with El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula Lakers instead of Los Lakers.