Apr 25, 2011, 2:00 AM EDT
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.
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