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NBA Playoffs: Chris Paul is beating the Lakers

Apr 25, 2011, 2:00 AM EDT

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Hornets - Game Four Getty Images

Bask in the glory that is Chris Paul.

We as basketball fans need to step back and revel in great games and great players, and Chris Paul is one and did that. He was dominant Sunday night, he was the reason the Hornets won 93-88 to even the series.

He put up 23 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds — in the second half. For the game it was 27 points 15 assists and 13 rebounds. He was draining corner threes, driving the lane and when the defense collapsed was willing to pass to Jarrett Jack — who didn’t have a bucket on the night before that — to hit the dagger with 9 seconds left. Paul was brilliant late in the game in a “how high can he go on the all time point guard list?” kind of way. Paul was embarrassing Derek Fisher with steals and slashing to the rim as well as anyone in the league.

It’s not going to matter, the Hornets are likely going to still lose this series. Seriously. Maybe in six games. That doesn’t take away from what Chris Paul did.

If you’re questioning the Lakers chances, remember that you were questioning them a year ago, too, when a young Oklahoma City team tied them at 2-2 in the first round. We remember how that ended.

These Lakers still have the ultimate advantage — they have size and skill up front. It’s just that Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom combined to shoot 10-of-26 on the night and missed key shots and chances down the stretch. The Lakers have an advantage that they just simply did not use well.

Look at it this way: Chris Paul had as many rebounds as Gasol and Odom combined (thanks to ESPN’s Land o’ Lakers). That is 6’0” point guard Chris Paul. A little shrub among the trees. Yet het got the ball. That should say all you need to know about the effort and play of the Lakers front line.

And we know they are fully capable of putting together back-to-back games the Hornets cannot match.

But CP3 might come close. He has flat out been the best player in the series. But not in the first half of this game.

It was actually a pretty offensively efficient half for one where Kobe Bryant didn’t score and Chris Paul had just four points. It was the shootout we all expected — Ron Artest vs. Trevor Ariza. Both had 16 first half points. The really the big shock was the Hornets had controlled the boards and that combined with some penetration in the second quarter had them controlling the paint on the taller Lakers.

That trend continued, the Hornets controlled the boards all night.

Kobe had 14 points in the third quarter. That’s when Chris Paul reached his triple double. And you had the feeling these two might start to really go at it.

Even with all of Paul’s brilliance, the Lakers had their chances

But while Kobe was good, Paul was brilliant. Runners, jumpers, threes, he was hitting them all. More important was the 15 assists as he got his teammates involved.

He will need to have two more games like this for the Hornets to have any chance. But really, it’s about the Lakers big men. No matter how bad Kobe’s ankle hurts (he twisted it in the fourth quarter but stayed in the game) the big men are the key. They did not shine tonight. Paul did.

And that’s why the series is tied.

  1. liltmac2003 - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:10 AM

    This was an intense game. Gotta love an exciting series.

    I could still see the frustration on Kobe’s face even after I turned off my TV.

  2. cakemixa - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:24 AM

    Uhh, why are you so sure the Lakers will win this series? The past is the past.

    • loungefly74 - Apr 25, 2011 at 4:19 PM

      well, usually the better team advances. the hornets are giving the Lakers fits , very true but the smart money is still on the Lakers to advance…having won the 2 last titles is a lot of credibility. thats why teams like boston and san antonio are favored to have a better chance of winning the title.

  3. cakemixa - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:26 AM

    Whys it so hard to give the Hornets credit? Every time they win, its because of what LA didn’t do. Give me a break. Can’t wait to see what you’ll have to say if they win the series.

  4. musilly - Apr 25, 2011 at 2:42 AM

    Couple of years back the Lakers made Aaron Brooks look like Chris Paul. Now, they’re making Chris but-he’s-lost-a-half-step Paul look like 1st-team Chris Paul.

  5. passerby23 - Apr 25, 2011 at 8:39 AM

    What has to concern you if you’re the Lakers is that this is becoming a long, physical series on an older team. They’re not getting rest, Kobe is injured, and they are hitting the bigs with big men at every turn. I agree, the Lakers are going to win the series, but what’s the second round war with Dallas/Portland going to be like? Or, potentially OKC in the Conference Finals?

  6. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 25, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    This is all part of Kobe and Phil’s plan. This game lulls the Hornets and every other team in to a false belief that the Lakers can be beaten. The Lakers cannot be beaten unless they allow it. With this “loss”, they have pulled every other team further into their trap. Phil and Kobe are brilliant.

    • mogogo1 - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:07 PM

      Particularly brilliant how they let Kobe get himself hurt. And you’re right, who WOULDN’T rather extend a series rather than just get it over and earn a bit of rest? Those old, tired legs have plenty left in them!

    • goawayeverybody - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM

      Ha ha ha, yes, the Lakers are secretly hoping that every series gets extended to 7 games. What NBA player WOULDN’T want this to happen????

    • fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 25, 2011 at 12:44 PM

      EXACTLY! This is all part of the plan. Kobe hurt? Ha! They are just setting th hook deeper to reel in the big fish!

  7. - Apr 25, 2011 at 1:58 PM

    The Hornets didn’t win, the Lakers stopped the same intensity as they had at the beginning. And besides KURT(worst sports writer ever) CP3 didn’t beat the Lakers “all by himself.” He did Nothing the first half. It was Trever Ariza who kept them from going down by 25. What game were You watching?

    • cordae - Apr 25, 2011 at 6:20 PM

      What game were you watching? He literally MADE the lakers play him one on one. He made every player that stepped up look dumb lol like chuck, or kenny, i cant remember, said last night “He controlled the tempo of the game”. That was Chris Pauls game last night. Anything he wanted to do, he could do it, and he made his team better while he was at it.

      With all this Rose/Rondo talk, he proved last night who the Alpha point guard was. Because I cant see either of them rising to the occasion (especially with a David Westless hornets) against the lakers like that. Thats what sperates him from those two (and a way better shot), that leadership ability. And dont say its because he’s older, because he was showing these same qualities in 2005…

      • cordae - Apr 25, 2011 at 6:38 PM

        With all that said, I still think the Lakers will win :(…

  8. philtration - Apr 25, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    This is the direction that the league is going in.
    Smaller, faster, stronger players that can do everything well.
    The guard position in the NBA is evolving and the days of the big, lumbering type of player is not the way to get it done anymore.
    Guards that can drive to the basket, get contact and still make the shot are taking over.

    No more draft him high, build the team around him, a big man only comes along once every 10 years stuff.

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