Game On: Lakers @ Hornets Game 6 (With Live Chat!)

Published: April 28, 2011

The last time these two met in New Orleans, it was a virtual must-win for the Hornets. Tonight, there is no other option. It is win or go stay home. We have spent the last 36 hours complaining about the refs and spouting out conspiracy theories, but now it is time to settle it on the court. Game 4 was a magical night in The Hive and there is no reason that the players and fans can’t duplicate that atmosphere tonight. In season’s past, the Lakers have closed out teams on their home floor, but not tonight, not against our Hornets.

At this point in a series, each team is fully aware of what the other wants to do, so it comes down to execution. The Hornets did not grow between Games 3 and 4, nor did they shrink between Games 4 and 5, but they did execute better on the glass and in the paint in Game 4 than they did in the other two. They got offensive rebounds, which led to 20 second chance points and that turned out to be the difference in the game. In Games 3 and 5, they were one and done on almost every possession and the result was two double digit losses. So, it is obvious that is one of the keys to the game. Here are a few others:

1.) Limit Turnovers

In the Hornets two wins, they are averaging 6.5 turnovers per game. In their three losses, they are averaging 15.7. That is a difference of over 9 possessions per game. The Hornets are averaging over 1.2 points per shot in this series, so that means that those 9 possessions would have likely resulted in 11 more points for the Hornets- enough to have won Game 2 and made Games 3 and 5 much closer.

In an elimination game you live or die with what got you here, and for the Hornets, that means Chris Paul. If he takes chances that result in turnovers, than so be it. You tip your hat and move on with an eye on next season. In the games that the Hornets have lost, however, they have relied too heavily on less talented players to create offense, and the results have been what you would expect. On Tuesday night, Aaron Gray stood in the high post with the ball and tried to thread the needle with a pass to Emeka down low. Result: turnover. In multiple games Willie Green has become a one man fast break, sometimes going up against as many as three Lakers. Result: turnover. Carl Landry drive and kick. Result: turnover. Cross court passes. Result: turnover.

Look, we all know the Chris Paul led pick and roll offense is boring at times, but if that is your strength, then you run it to death tonight. Don’t try to get fancy, don’t over-think the situation, and PLEASE no hero passes. If limiting turnovers has been the key to victory in this series and you have the guy with the best assist to turnover ratio in the league since he entered, then the answer is pretty simple, no?

2.) Put the pressure on the Refs

Has the officiating been poor at times in this series? Uh,…. Both teams played hard. But in all seriousness, I don’t think that even the most adamant conspiracy theorist believes that the refs have been ordered to ensure a Lakers victory. That is ludicrous. But, is it possible that refs give the benefit of the doubt to stars in this league and since the Lakers have 5 stars (counting the Zen Master), while the Hornets have only one- is it possible that gives the Lakers an advantage? Maybe. But referees also tend to be influenced by the more aggressive team, and that usually trumps everything.

I am sure the fans will be on the zebras from the minute they are introduced. I am positive that somebody will complain that the jump ball was not thrown precisely down the middle and will have video analysis up of the tip by the middle of the first quarter. And I am sure that every call and non call will be greeted either with a deafening amount of boos or sarcastic cheers. Combine that home court advantage with a more aggressive team and there is no way the Hornets don’t get the majority of the 50/50 calls.

At least, that is what I will keep telling myself.

3.) Expose Kobe on the defensive end

Trevor Ariza scored 10 points early on against Kobe, who still had some explosion in his legs, but was completely missing the lateral quickness that usually makes him a supreme defender. For whatever reason the Hornets went away from whomever Kobe was covering, and that proved to be a huge mistake. Whenever Kobe is on the court, the Hornets have to make him work on the defensive end, even if that means just continually running him through screens off the ball. The cumulative effect of all of those possessions will both open up things for the Hornets offensively and wear Kobe down, making him easier to defend.

Other News and Notes:

– I have been asked a lot how I feel about the officiating and here is my analogy (if you don’t know by now, I am a heavy analogy person). I think fans are reality television producers in this whole scenario. For those of you who don’t know, hundreds of hours of footage are shot for a show that might only have 8 episodes that are an hour long. From those hundreds of hours, the producers pick and choose the story-lines that are the most intriguing and compile all the footage that fits that storyline while conveniently dumping the footage that does not.

Even the most evil reality characters have their charitable moments and the opposite is true for America’s Sweetheart, but Good vs. Evil is always more compelling than kinda good most of the time vs. somewhat bad, even though their heart is kinda in the right place, maybe. NBA fans do the same thing, and that is why both Lakers fans and Hornets fans feel like they are getting screwed in this series. Both sets of fans can tell you about every bad call their team got, the non-calls that worked in favor of the other team, etc. But ask them to turn the tables and they become silent.

Now, remember, in my analogy, there is still a kinda good and a kinda bad- meaning that one team does get slightly favored. And I do think that in this series it is the Lakers, slightly. I just don’t think it is nearly as black and white as both fans (and coaches) think it is.

– We will be having a Live Chat tonight, hosted by the one and only Ryan Schwan. This is his first time doing it alone, so please, be gentle.

– Lakers are now 5.5 point favorites after opening at 5. The over/under is 183, meaning that most are expecting a low scoring game, which works out in the favor of the Hornets. 52% of people are actually taking the Hornets plus the points, and 85% of betters are taking the over.


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