The Hornets stole a game on the Lakers’ home court in Game 1, and on Friday, the Lakers took their home court advantage back by getting down to basics. They got the ball inside and let Andrew Bynum get to work, they played team defense to keep the ball out of Chris Paul’s hands as much as possible, Lamar Odom showed just how vulnerable opposing defenses are against him, Kobe Bryant was…well, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol finally broke into double figures for the first time in this series.
The Hornets will, by no means, fold over and just allow the Lakers another win to head home up 3-1 in the series. They know Chris Paul’s the main target of the Lakers defense and they will undoubtedly find their way around it, or find alternative ways to defeat the visitors without being so dependent on their point guard. The Lakers’ job in this game is to do what they did in the last – keep it simple.
Simple means taking advantage of Bynum in the post. Emeka Okafor is no match for him and Bynum knows this well. Simple also means getting Pau Gasol going earlier. His “breakthrough” performance on Friday is something he did countless times in the season, and hopefully, whatever shook his confidence in Games 1 and 2 is something he deals with better tonight. Simple means getting their bench to perform on par, if not exceed the Hornets’ reserve play. Game 1 would have been a considerably different game for New Orleans had their bench not stepped up their game. The Laker reserves need to do the same. Simple, lastly, means not getting perimeter-happy. The Lakers haven’t gotten too out of control from behind the arc in this series, and they would be mistaken to try now. New Orleans is dangerous on the run and more missed shots on the Lakers’ end only means an abundance of fastbreak points on the Hornets’ side.
If the Lakers can take their Game 3 performance and raise it another notch or two, tonight’s game is theirs.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, L. Odom, P. Gasol
Hornets: C.Paul, M.Belinelli, T.Ariza, C.Landry, E.Okafor
Tip-off: 6:30 PM PST
• KCAL – Joel Meyers, Stu Lantz, John Ireland
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
• New Orleans: 106.7 FM KMEZ (Sean Kelley & Gerry Vaillancourt)
• Kobe Bryant (Sprained Left Ankle) Will Play
• Andrew Bynum (Bone Bruse, Right Knee) Will Play
• Matt Barnes (Sore Right Knee) Will Play
• Steve Blake (Chickenpox) Will Play
• Devin Ebanks (Stree Fracture, Left Tibia ) Out
• David West (Torn ACL, Left Knee) Out