Skip to content

NBA Playoffs: The Lakers get back on track

Apr 27, 2011, 2:36 AM EST

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

There was no one matchup that swung in the Lakers’ favor on Tuesday night. There wasn’t one key play that ended up making all the difference late in the game, although Kobe Bryant‘s turn-back-the-clock dunk in the second quarter did help swing the momentum their way. There wasn’t a noticeable change in their offensive strategy, and they still had trouble containing Chris Paul. None of that ended up mattering.

As it turned out, the Lakers didn’t need to make any big adjustments to power through the New Orleans Hornets and take a 3-2 series lead — they simply needed to play the way everyone knows they are capable of playing. Even though the Hornets have managed to take two tough games from the Lakers in this series, and still have a chance to win two more if the Lakers stop executing and Chris Paul goes off again, Game Five showed that the Hornets don’t have any answers for the Lakers when they play their game. There’s a reason why it can be so frustrating to watch the Lakers when they lose — when they win, they make it look so easy.

Even though the Hornets were able to shoot the ball well against the Lakers, the defending champions outclassed them in every area. Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Ron Artest were able to manhandle the Hornets in the paint and on the boards. The Lakers scored 67 of their 106 points from the paint or the free-throw line, and outscored the Hornets 22-2 in second chance points.

After the game, Phil Jackson said that the “hustle points” went the Lakers’ way on Tuesday, and that the second-chance points were “the key to the win.” Hornets coach Monty Williams also noted that his team needs to figure out a way to match the Lakers’ physicality, saying “there was more focus to be physical” in Game 5 and that a lot of what occurred was “just not basketball, so it’s just one of those things we have to recognize that kind of play and overcome it.” Chris Paul also acknowledged the Hornets’ physicality, saying that the Hornets “need to figure out a way to play physical without fouling.” It will be hard for the Hornets to overcome the Lakers’ massive size advantage up front, but they will clearly need to figure something out in order to stay alive in this series.

Out on the perimeter, Kobe Bryant found the perfect balance between patience and aggression. He was content to run the offense and set up his teammates for most of the game, but he also had a few key scoring bursts, most notably at the end of the second quarter. After Bryant was called for a questionable continuation foul on Trevor Ariza, he came right back down the court and unleashed an electrifying dunk on Emeka Okafor that completely galvanized the Staples Center. After the game, Shannon Brown said that it was Kobe’s biggest dunk “since he had an afro,” and Kobe said that the dunk was a message to his teammates that “the series is important — they know I don’t have many of those left in me anymore.” Needless to say, Bryant’s ankle was much less of a concern after the game than it was before it.

Kobe and the Laker bigs had it going, and the Lakers’ role players did their part as well. The Lakers’ second unit didn’t shoot particularly well from the floor, but they were able to hit some timely threes, and their energy provided what Phil Jackson called “a major boost” to the Lakers when they checked in. When the Lakers are locked in like that on offense, there’s not much that a defense can do to slow them down.

Offensively, the Hornets didn’t do poorly by any stretch of the imagination. Chris Paul didn’t dominate the game like he did in the Hornets’ wins, but he still finished with 20 points on 12 shots and 12 assists. Marco Belinelli and Trevor Ariza shot as well as anyone can possibly expect Marco Belinelli and Trevor Ariza to shoot, and Willie Green continued to make impossible floaters. Even though the Hornets barely got any offensive production out of their bigs and turned the ball over 17 times, their loss was more a product of the Lakers’ offensive execution and dominance on the glass than anything they did wrong offensively.

As Trevor Ariza put it after the game, “[The Lakers] played well. There’s nothing that we can say. I don’t think we didn’t fight or we didn’t play well, I just feel like they played better than us. That’s it.” Unfortunately for the Hornets, there’s a lot of truth in what Ariza said. The Hornets are a scrappy team that plays good defense, has some outside shooting, and has Chris Paul, but there are reasons why the Lakers won 11 more games than the Hornets did in the regular season. The Lakers’ big men are both bigger and more skilled than the Hornet bigs, the Lakers are deeper than the Hornets are, and while Chris Paul has arguably outplayed Kobe in this series, Kobe is still Kobe.

The Hornets have put up a great fight in this series, and it’s hard to count them out with the way Chris Paul has been playing. However, it’s even harder to shake the feeling that if the Lakers play like this one more time in the next two games, there’s not going to be a lot that the Hornets can do to avoid elimination.

Latest Posts
  1. Report: Pistons asked for Kyle Korver and Jeff Teague in discussing Greg Monroe trade with Hawks

    Dec 17, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Greg Monroe AP

    Portland also reportedly tried to trade for Monroe before he signed the one-year qualifying offer to stay in Detroit.

  2. Isaiah Austin gets added as a player in NBA 2K15 video game

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:50 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznptg2mzfkyty1yze1ntrjmmmwogrlmge3mdezmdqzmwfk AP

    Former Baylor University center was expected to be drafted, but was diagnosed with a disease that prematurely ended his chances of playing in the NBA.

  3. Dwyane Wade gets poked in the eye by referee, then flops (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:10 PM EST

    Dwyane Wade AP

    Wade has a reputation of being a flopper, and appeared to exaggerate the contact from the official.

  4. Tyson Chandler says he feels sorry for Carmelo Anthony

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    Dallas Mavericks v New York Knicks Getty Images

    He pities ‘Melo because a real competitor is suffering through a lot of losing.

  5. Cavaliers’ Kevin Love a game-time decision Wednesday vs. Hawks

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:50 AM EST

    Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Love is suffering from the dreaded flu-like symptoms.

  6. Kings retire Peja Stojakovic’s jersey (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:30 AM EST

    Peja Stokakovicof Peja Stokakovicof

    Peja was a three-time All-Star, and a member of the only good team Sacramento has had in its franchise history.

  7. Kevin Durant on idea stars wouldn’t want to play with Kobe Bryant: ‘That’s bulls—‘

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:50 AM EST

    Oklahoma City Thunder v Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images

    Durant joins Paul George as players who renounce the nonsensical report that emerged earlier in the season.

  8. Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson meets with Kings GM, DeMarcus Cousins after Tuesday night’s game

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:09 AM EST

    Mark Jackson AP

    Prior relationships Jackson has with Kings brass may make this an obvious choice for Sacramento as the team searches for its next head coach.

  9. Report: Kings have reached out to Vinny Del Negro about being next coach

    Dec 17, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

    Vinny Del Negro AP

    That sound you just heard was the collective voice of people in Sacramento yelling “nooooooooo.”

  10. PBT’s Tuesday Night NBA Winners/Losers: Grizzlies grind ends Warriors streak

    Dec 17, 2014, 2:02 AM EST

    Marc Gasol AP

    Rough night for the Bucks, and they didn’t even play.

  11. Wizards’ Andre Miller attempts put-back dunk, fails miserably (VIDEO)

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:15 AM EST

    andre miller wizards AP

    Miller, known for his high-IQ game, gets hung on the rim.

  12. It’s official: Jabari Parker out for the season with torn ACL

    Dec 16, 2014, 11:13 PM EST

    Milwaukee Bucks v Cleveland Cavaliers Getty Images

    Parker was the leading Rookie of the Year candidate.

  13. Grizzlies snap Warriors’ 16-game winning streak

    Dec 16, 2014, 10:56 PM EST

    Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies

    Golden State is still 21-3 on the season, and has help on the way.

  14. Ivan Johnson, now in the D-League, suspended one game for making contact with referee

    Dec 16, 2014, 10:00 PM EST

    Dallas Mavericks Media Day 2014-2015 Getty Images

    Johnson is trying to make it back to the NBA, but incidents like this won’t help his cause.

  15. Nets honor deceased super-fan Jeffrey Gamblero with moment of silence

    Dec 16, 2014, 8:15 PM EST

    gamblero

    Gamblero was in the news recently after being dragged from Madison Square Garden by arena security.

Featured video

Can red hot Warriors sustain success?
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. K. Martin (6744)
  2. J. Noah (6735)
  3. A. Davis (6691)
  4. D. Favors (6444)
  5. D. Cousins (6406)
  1. L. James (6343)
  2. T. Jones (6281)
  3. A. Bogut (6127)
  4. T. Parker (6060)
  5. K. Leonard (6049)