Apr 27, 2011, 2:36 AM EDT
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.
May 19, 2013, 12:01 AM EDT
The Pacers sent all five members of the starting lineup to the podium for the postgame press conference following their 106-99 Game 6 win over the Knicks, which goes a long way in telling the story of how they were able to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. The team defensive effort that Indiana exhibits…
May 18, 2013, 11:12 PM EDT
WIth the Pacers’ win over the Knicks in Game 6 on Saturday in the books, the schedule for the Eastern Conference Finals is now set. Miami will host Indiana beginning on Wednesday, May 22, and all games will be televised nationally on TNT with a start time of 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Game 1 – Wed …
May 18, 2013, 10:52 PM EDT
Midway through the fourth quarter of Game 6 and with the Knicks surging and clinging to a two-point advantage, Carmelo Anthony drove baseline and elevated, almost certainly expecting to finish this dunk over Roy Hibbert to further extend his team’s lead. Hibbert got there first, however, and met Anthony at the rim for this monster…
May 18, 2013, 8:29 PM EDT
Nate Robinson wasn’t only the Bulls’ main scoring punch during the playoffs, he symbolized the team’s heart, as well. Robinson put in many memorable performances during his injury-ravaged team’s run into the second round, including leading Chicago to a thrilling triple-overtime win over the Nets in the fourth game of that series, and helping to…
May 18, 2013, 7:01 PM EDT
By winning Game 5 against the Pacers, the Knicks have turned their series. After it seemed Indiana had a decided advantage, each remaining game is basically a tossup. Both teams could make arguments for why they have the upper hand in Game 6 tonight: In the Pacers’ favor: The Knicks are 0-4 at Indiana this…
May 18, 2013, 6:31 PM EDT
UPDATE: 6:28 p.m. ET: George Hill has been cleared to play in Game 6, the Pacers announced. Here’s the official release: “Over the last two days under the care of the Indiana Pacers’ medical staff, George Hill has participated in each step of the NBA’s Return-to-Participation Exertion Protocol as part of the NBA’s Concussion Policy.…
Dennis Schroeder bows out of combine in Chicago, plans on skipping Eurocamp due to likely draft promise
May 18, 2013, 5:30 PM EDT
Dennis Schroeder is an international prospect from Germany that has been rapidly moving up draft boards. The 19-year old point guard is listed at 6’2″ with a 6’7.25″ wingspan, and the speed and flair with which he plays is already eliciting comparisons to Rajon Rondo in terms of ability, body type, and style. Schroeder was…
May 18, 2013, 4:07 PM EDT
For months, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has maintained he’s done as Team USA’s basketball coach. But he might be having a change of heart. Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated: Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski acknowledged in a phone interview Saturday that he’s in discussions to return as head coach of USA Basketball through the 2016 Olympics.…
May 18, 2013, 4:00 PM EDT
Damian Lillard is getting special edition shoes from adidas to honor his Rookie of the Year campaign with the Blazers. As with all commemorative releases, it’s the small design details that make them something worth coveting. From the official release: “The shoe’s sockliners feature Damian’s Twitter handle, an Oakland satellite print and “9800s” to represent…
May 18, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT
Toronto has until Monday to decide the fate of Bryan Colangelo as GM and the guy steering the Raptors ship — do they pick up his option for next season or release him? It looks more and more like the new management of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment — which owns the Raptors — wants…
May 18, 2013, 11:30 AM EDT
Predrag Danilovic, the Serbian guard (often called Sasha) who played for the Heat and Mavericks back in the 1990s, is in serious condition after being stabbed in a bar fight back in his native country, reports the Associated Press. Police say Danilovic was hurt during a brawl early Saturday in a cafe in a residential…
May 18, 2013, 10:50 AM EDT
The Charlotte Bobcats are about to go away — and the Charlotte Hornets are coming back. Fans in Charlotte have clamored for the change, particularly since the Tom Benson, the new owner in New Orleans, pushed for a name change from Hornets to the more locally popular Pelicans. It’s going to happen, reports CBSSports.com’s Will…
May 18, 2013, 9:30 AM EDT
The NBA has had a concussion policy in place for the past 18 months, and while all teams have been made aware of the details, they haven’t been publicly available until now. With the recent concussion that kept George Hill out of the Pacers’ Game 5 loss to the Knicks (and may sideline him even…
May 18, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
To quote the great Wayne Gretzky, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Nicole Muxo took a shot. The high school senior at Archbishop Coleman Carroll put a video on YouTube asking Dwyane Wade to be her date for her senior prom. Friday night, he showed up, reports NBCMiami.com. Muxo, who attends…
May 18, 2013, 2:51 AM EDT
Here is the reality of the NBA Draft Combine: It doesn’t matter that much. It’s one small piece of a big puzzle. This isn’t like the NFL draft where a good or bad combine can really move a guy on draft boards. The reason is pure numbers — in the NFL every year more than…
May 17, 2013, 10:45 PM EDT
Phil Jackson has a new book coming out, so he will be spending plenty of time talking it up at various media outlets in the coming weeks. The tour has begun in earnest, and the juiciest quotes from the book are beginning to be released. If there’s one subject Jackson can speak on with absolute…
May 17, 2013, 9:33 PM EDT
Vinny Del Negro coached the Clippers to a franchise-best 56 regular season wins, yet he is a man without a contract for next season. It’s been widely assumed that the team would go in another direction after L.A. was bounced from the playoffs in the first round, especially after getting out to a two games…
May 17, 2013, 8:07 PM EDT
George Hill played 37 minutes in the Pacers’ Game 4 win over the Knicks, and led the team in scoring with a game-high 26 points. So when the news broke shortly before tip-off of Game 5 that he had been ruled out due to a concussion, the collective head-scratching of when this might have happened…
May 17, 2013, 7:41 PM EDT
In 2009, Greg Oden averaged 16.7 points, 12.8 rebounds and 3.4 blocks per 36 minutes. After injury, Oden finally looked like the No. 1 pick (at least when not compared to Kevin Durant), and people were getting excited. Of course, you know how the story ends. More injuries for Oden, who hasn’t played since. Well,…
May 17, 2013, 7:24 PM EDT
As my friends can attest, I’m not always the smoothest guy around. But even I know to make a little small talk before trying to score a number. Apparently, the Spurs just rushed to the point when they were set up with Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas. Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com: Thomas said teams asked him…
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