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NBA Playoffs: Nobody closes out on the road like the Lakers

Apr 28, 2011, 3:40 PM EDT

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

Back in the 2009 NBA finals, the Los Angeles Lakers closed out the Orlando Magic in Game 5 on the road. Last playoffs on their way to the finals, the Lakers closed out Oklahoma City, Utah and Phoenix all on the road.

Thursday night, they are back in that situation — they can close out the New Orleans Hornets in New Orleans Arena. The Lakers are up 3-2 in their first round series and the only thing between them and the second round is Chris Paul. Which is no small obstacle.

By Game 6 of a playoff series there are no more tricks, no more adjustments, no more surprises. You know your opponent, they know you. It’s a matter of execution.

For the Hornets, that means a lot of Chris Paul — in the two games the Hornets have won in this series, he simply has been superhuman. When he has been merely human – 20 points and 12 assists in Game 5, for example — they have lost. Look for Paul to be aggressive on the pick-and-roll and try to tear up the Lakers defense again.

With Kobe Bryant’s still sore ankle, Paul will get less of the potentially-disruptive Kobe and more Derek Fisher and Steve Blake. Look for Ron Artest to get time guarding Paul if he  gets hot.

Bryant’s ankle looked good on dunks when he was diving right at the rim in Game 5, but his lateral movement was decidedly slower. Phil Jackson said his ankle is still not 100 percent. Paul right now would eat him alive. Look for the Hornets to attack Kobe until he proves he can defend.

For the Lakers, the equation is simple — pound the ball inside and use your size and skill advantage up front. Really, this is the recipe for every Lakers playoff series, every regular season game and so on. But the Lakers still are more than willing to get away from it. Pau Gasol had his best game in Game 5, matching the physicality of New Orleans, look for him to try and establish that again.

If the Lakers can defend and create turnovers, if they stick with their game plan, they will win and close out on the road again. That is, unless the superhuman Paul shows up again. In which case the traveling parties can get back on a plane bound for Los Angeles and a deciding Game 7 Saturday.

  1. zblott - Apr 28, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    Nobody gets 19 4th-quarter free throws in the playoffs on the regular like the Lakers. If you’re going to disagree, go find me a counter-example other than the “Stern says F you to Mark Cuban” Finals of 2006.

    • rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:54 PM

      blah,blah,blah, how many non-calls do those reject refs make because he is Kobe, get real.
      Why don’t you ask David Stern how the Thunder went to the free throw line almost 30 times more than Denver, ask him about the 5 point possession the Celtics had on the Knicks, or the 3 second violation ref # 1 called when only 2 seconds came off the clock and when ref # 2 had to convince him by pointing at the clock, how about the phantom called on Melo.

  2. rapmusicmademedoit - Apr 28, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    You causing trouble Kurt, what does Kobe have to do tonight to you doubters out there, he almost
    busted open Emekas chest the other night with that dunkaroo………………………

    Kobe gets 40 tonight to close em out ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, WHO GOT NEXT???

  3. fouldwimmerlaik - Apr 29, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    Just like my Kobe Bryant Action Figure – Playoff Edition, the real Kobe flies like Superman. Hee hee hee.

    I may take out my regular Kobe Bryant Action Figure (the non-playoff one I got on eBay) so there will be double-Kobe vs the Mavericks.

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