Photo by Jeff Zelevansky | Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers led by Kobe Bryant, used balanced scoring and a major impact from their front line to take a 3-2 series lead.

A lot of the talk prior to the game centered on Kobe Bryant’s ankle, one emphatic dunk later all the talk stopped. Kobe, leading by example, made a statement and his teammates got the message.

The formula the Hornets have used to extend this series farther than several expected has been to be physical with the Lakers, force the big players away from deep post position, speed up the tempo and allow Chris Paul to run the show and get the Lakers involved in several screen and roll situations.

Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza and Carl Landry have been outstanding for the Hornets and the main reasons why New Orleans won two games. This is a close out game; Phil Jackson’s team has won all four-closeout chances in 2010, including three road games.

It is imperative that the Lakers establish Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the paint.  L.A. needs Pau Gasol to take his match up with Carl Landry personal. Gasol is a skilled player that needs to focus on making aggressive moves to the basket and finishing. This is the no lay ups time of the year. Meaning no lay ups should be attempted or allowed. It is all about making definitive baskets and finishing strong.

The Lakers have to control the tempo of the game, get back in transition and do a much better job of defending the screen and roll without switching one of the bigs on Chris Paul. The Lakers need to win the rebounding battle and own the glass.

L.A. needs to utilize excellent ball movement and excellent player movement to find high percentage shots. The Lakers will win tonight displaying defensive focus and offensive discipline.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, P. Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Hornets:
C. Paul, M. Belinelli, T. Ariza, C. Landry, E. Okafor

Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: TNT, KCAL 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
  • New Orleans: TNT, Cox Sports Television (Bob Licht & Gil McGregor)

Radio

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
  • New Orleans: KMEZ 106.7 (Sean Kelley & Gerry Vaillancourt)

Injuries

Lakers:

  • Theo Ratliff ( Left Knee) Out
  • Matt Barnes (Sore Right Knee) Probable
  • Kobe Bryant (Sprained Left Ankle) Will Play
  • Andrew Bynum (Bone Bruise, Right Knee) Probable

Hornets:

  • David West (Torn ACL, Left Knee) Out