Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Sting us once, shame on you. Sting us twice, shame on us. That’s what it should say on the Laker white board before Game 5, because if this were a game of missed opportunities, the Lakers would have won, hands down. They had a nine-point lead in the first quarter, then squandered it with careless offense and absent defense (I’m talking to you over there, guarding Trevor Ariza who scored 16 first-half points, ahem, Kobe Bryant). The Hornets made runs to increase their leads throughout the game, and so did the Lakers to catch up. But with each chance to either take the game over, the road team failed to execute time and time again and it cost them another game to finish off this series.

After such effective defense on Chris Paul in Games 2 and 3, the Lakers reverted back to their generous ways, allowing the Hornets’ point guard to get whatever he wanted in this game. Derek Fisher actually had a few effective defensive possessions on Paul, which the Lakers might’ve given him more opportunities to do. Unfortunately, they were caught on switches again, and when Paul sees Gasol or Bynum guarding him, it must literally be like a predator sizing up its prey. 27 points on 7-14, 13 rebounds and 15 assists. 13 REBOUNDS. That work on the glass equals effort says something about Paul’s stat line, because he was overflowing with effort in this game, which is more than can be said of the Laker bigs, none of whom even cracked double digits on the glass.

Pau Gasol had 16 points on 6-11 but had just four rebounds. Lamar Odom, a complete non-factor in this game, managed just six points and four rebounds. Ron Artest, 16 points on 7-10 (all in the first half), had just 4 rebounds as well. Chris Paul = 13 rebounds, Gasol/Odom/Artest = 12 rebounds. At least Andrew Bynum grabbed nine boards to go along with his 16 points on 6-11. And that was despite playing almost the entire game in foul trouble. The Lakers, as a team, were outrebounded by the Hornets 39-32, and as it’s been repeated tirelessly (though apparently not enough times to the Lakers themselves), a team with two seven-footers and a 6’11” forward should never be outrebounded.

Kobe Bryant, for his part, did everything he could do tonight. He went 0-7 in the first half, but handed out seven assists, always scanning for scoring opportunities. He could have had a lot more dimes if his teammates converted some of his passes. He finished with 17 points, six rebounds, eight assists and a steal. Late in the fourth quarter, with the Lakers keeping it close, he twisted his ankle but, as is his nature, he refused to leave the game when a chance for victory was still possible. The Lakers were plagued, however, by some late-game foibles by Gasol (who wasn’t prepared to receive a pass from Bryant while he stood the hoop), Odom (whose offensive rebound was taken by Jarrett Jack), and Artest who lost sight of his defensive assignment and allowed Jack to get a jumper in the final seconds to give the Hornets a four-point lead.

Game 5 will be no easy win for this Lakers team, especially if their collective efforts mirror that of tonight’s game. That this series has been pushed to six games says something about the New Orleans Hornets and the defending champs would do well to review their Game 2 and 3 footage. It’s no mystery how they won those games. Now they have to adjust again, execute and finish.

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts: Expect a feisty game tonight with the Hornets fighting to keep the Lakers from going back to Staples with a 3- series lead.
Half-time Thoughts: 45-49 – The Lakers led by nine points early in the first quarter, but they let the Hornets, led by Trevor Ariza’s 16 points, to make a run and then eventually take over the lead late in the second. Ron Artest has been the Lakers’ scorer so far, and with Kobe Bryant going 0-7, they’ve needed him. All the momentum going into the half belong to the Hornets and the Lakers would do well to make all their negatives (points, rebounds, assists) into positives if they want to leave New Orleans with a victory. Bryant does have seven of the Lakers’ 10 assists, but other players need to get involved in running the offense as well. Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol only have three rebounds COMBINED. The Lakers allowed the Hornets to shoot 53% in the half, fell asleep on defense to before the break. At least they’re taking care of the ball with just four turnovers.
Most Thoughtless Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Lamar Odom – in just over 24 minutes of playing time, the Sixth Man of the Year produced six points on 1-7, four rebounds and two turnovers. In a game as close as this was, every x-factor is a factor, and Odom could’ve been the difference.
Most Thought-filled Play(s)/Player(s) of the Game: Chris Paul – He did EVERYTHING to get his team the win tonight and it can’t be emphasized enough how his leadership carries the Hornets. A triple-double to get the victory – that’s what great captains do and Paul is the perfect example.

  • Binky

    I think KB should be most thoughless. He couldnt buy a bucket in the last 5 mins of the game. Lakers would have won if he had hit some shots when it mattered. Best closer in the game couldnt do it.

    • k0b3

      I agree with you.

      • Lakers1

        Give the guy a break. He’s played more basketball in the past 3-4 years than anyone else, going to the Finals 3 years in a row and winning 2 out of the 3 times. He’s playing with broken fingers and other injuries not mentioned. I don’t think any of you could play through half of what he plays through. So lay off! Chew into Lamar and Pau if anyone. They’re getting outrebounded by a 6 foot guard.

        • Lakers1

          Also, why aren’t you getting upset with Phil? He waits to bring the starters back with 5 minutes to go in the game. New Orleans started the 4th quarter with Chris Paul. Not to mention, Ron Artest had a great first half, but got reduced playing time and touches in the 2nd half.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t believe such thing as switch, if Lakers can pull this off definite not next round.

  • Anonymous

    Lakers is like Spurs got over run by young gun.

  • Inverse

    Kobe on crutches, series tied 2-2, and caron butler most likely playing in round 2 if lakers and mavs are to meet. Not a good easter sunday in laker land

  • Inverse

    Kobe on crutches, series tied 2-2, and caron butler most likely playing in round 2 if lakers and mavs are to meet. Not a good easter sunday in laker land

  • ThisIsHowUFixIt

    The Lakers just dont play ball the way its supposed to be played. Kobe has got to do better. When the other team is in the penalty early in the third and fourth quarters, why aren’t the Lakers pounding the ball inside or taking the ball to the basket? Instead we get fallaway 20 footers from Kobe, or 3pt shots from Lamar, or just an unwillingness to get the ball into the post. And the most aggravating thing of all is, instead of Gasol jumping up and snatching some rebounds, we get this tap tap, pity pat stuff. What the hell is that? Grab the damn board! Stop tapping the ball out. Half of CP3′s rebounds had to come from Gasol trying to tap the ball out. Its really mind boggling. Lakers have a size advantage on offense and defense. Time to use it. Lastly, Kobe has got to guard CP3. Enough already. It worked just fine game 2. What, he doesnt want to ruin his offense by chasing CP3 around all game? Cmon! So instead he guards Ariza, gets lit up by him like a Christmas tree and still shoots 30% from the field! Amazing.

  • laffsatu

    best closer in the game,my ass……

    • Dre

      Just like you the best faggot on this site aint that right when it comes to ass

  • Odom the player

    First of all as painful as it is to say, this Laker team has declined to mediocrity. For starters, they lack of attention to detail. Kobe to start the game guarding Ariza; Ariza blew past him several times, but he wouldn’t make adjustments, like backing off a step or two. He also took bad shot after shot. After that the Lakers just don’t know how to rebound, it’s just that simple. Then the heroes: Fisher trying to cross over Chris Paul and getting his pocket picked, not to mention his stupid non effective driving to the basket. Gasol mishandle of kobes perfect pass, Bynum missing a wide open layup. people keep saying getting the ball inside, that’s only effective if other people can knock down the outside shot CONSISTENTLY, which no one on this team can do. I’m starting to think lamar is going back to his old ways, it seems like he just doesn’t care. No emotion at all, bricking every shot, going down doing that statue of liberty pose on defense again. Even if the Lakers somehow win this series, hard to see them advancing much further.

  • T411Lakers

    Awful game. I seriously worry for the Lakers. Chances are they will advance, but if they are struggling to have solid possessions and play Basketball the right way against the Hornets…who knows how much they will struggle. And someone said Kobe was the best closer in the game…….I’d beg to differ

  • Touch Me

    What did I tell you Lakerland Nostra WHAT DID I TELL YOU, I am here win or lose i already commented in the previous post. I kept telling everyone how good this NOH team is and now look 2-2. If they win on tues. they can close us out in NOH. You arrogant fans kept calling 4 the sweep and lal in 5. And no thought that NOH just might win this series except me of course. Im calling on you to STAND DOWN Nostra and watch as a regular fan rather than anointing the Lakers champions

  • Touch Me

    What did I tell you Lakerland Nostra WHAT DID I TELL YOU, I am here win or lose i already commented in the previous post. I kept telling everyone how good this NOH team is and now look 2-2. If they win on tues. they can close us out in NOH. You arrogant fans kept calling 4 the sweep and lal in 5. And no thought that NOH just might win this series except me of course. Im calling on you to STAND DOWN Nostra and watch as a regular fan rather than anointing the Lakers champions

    • LakerLand Nostradamus

      The difference between you and me. I am a Laker fan and you are either a Boston or Orlando. Sorry bro, you only show up here when the Lakers lose, so you are not fooling anyone. Keep the good job going. LOL

  • Hallwalter1234

    Some of you need 2 shut up or either watch da game because I don’t know what the h… You’re talking about watch da game then critique. I Bet Alot of yall half-ass when you’re @ work but you’re ready 2 give up on my guys. Get off da wagon pls!!!

  • Michael Donovan

    i hope jackson has the balls to sit bryant for game five, start odom, put artest on Paul and get this team to hustle their frigging asses and play team basketball…while he’s at it, start trey johnson over derek fisher….

  • Mr Laker19

    I disagree with alot of you.The Hornets are NOT a good team. They have a Great player and a bunch of average players around him who cant shoot. The reason we are losing is because their biggest strength is our biggest weakness. The other reason is Pau and Kobe are playing sub par. I cant explain it but they both are not as intense as they were the last three years. The whole team besides Artest looks complacent. When Kobe and Pau get more aggressive and passionate then we will blow this team out. Also… maybe… if they want.. .GUARD THE DAMN PICK AND ROLL CORRECTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dre

    If my memory serves me Correct Pau MISSED A GREAT PASS That would have tied The game because The hornets missed we came back down and he got a 3 point play and it would have tied the game I dont hear no one complaining abour how LO went 1 FOR 7 Kobe had 8 assists and ya’ll still complain if he dont pass ya’ll still complain smh @ fake ass fans also FISHER SHOULD BE GUARDING PAUL Kobe shouldnt have to Guard Point Guards because fisher slow Start shannon at the point Got damn it

    • laffsatu

      hey drip, if my memory serves me,bryant bricked the final shot that would of tied the game…wide open…pull your head out bro,,,

  • xtro

    they should have signed a young defensive point guard. i have a bad feeling about this. i hope i am wrong.

  • ilikebasketball

    Does Khloe’s tweet about lamar being hurt come into play here?

    1-7? did he hurt himself at home? did something go down where he wasn’t at full force?

  • kileer7

    1. No defense for the pick and roll, pick and pop. 2. didn’t take away the middle from Paul. If we don’t win game 5 I believe we’re going to lose game 6 … we will be eliminated in the first round.

  • kileer7

    1. No defense for the pick and roll, pick and pop. 2. didn’t take away the middle from Paul. If we don’t win game 5 I believe we’re going to lose game 6 … we will be eliminated in the first round.

  • NoDefense

    Lakers will win game five……….

  • Luke Sucks

    The Hornets are not going to lay down for the Lakers. Time to put away the cockiness and play. Keep your mind in the game.

    Oh and keep Luke on the bench.

  • Anonymous

    You guys are pathetic. And if you think I man you…you’re right.
    Lakers 4Life. That means something to me. I have faith in these guys to get it right. This is a Chris Paul who hasn’t played this well all year. He is a great, great player and one great player can win you a couple of games, but not a series against a better team. Just ask LeBooBoo.
    We will move on.
    NWA