The Lakers-Hornets series has turned into a three-game series. The Lakers are injured, distracted and tied. This scenario is far from the expected outcome in the first round. One can use several words describing this series; the fact of the matter is ‘completed’ is not one of them. I would also refrain from hitting the Lakers with a ‘lack of effort’ verbal blast.
The issues that have caused a tied series have been prevalent all season. They’re not strangers to a 2-2 series. They found themselves in the exact same position against the young and hungry Oklahoma City Thunder team in their last playoff run.
The Lakers can pull themselves out of the mess that they have created.
Kobe Bryant injured his ankle at the end of game four; he has done everything possible to be able to step on the court and has vowed to play tonight. He’s a warrior, a tremendous competitor who has constantly answered the bell. However, the severity of his injury could completely alter this series.
The Lakers have faired well in game five situations. They had several opportunities in game four to take a 3-1 advantage. You have to give the Hornets credit for playing well and putting up a tremendous fight. The Lakers have not matched the intensity of their opponent.
The Lakers have vast playoff experience on their side. It is imperative that they tap into that well again for tonight’s pivotal game. The first thing that needs to change is Pau Gasol being the team’s fourth leading scorer. Gasol needs to be aggressive to return to being the consistent 25-point 10 rebound factor. We have yet to see that guy in the post-season. They need to return to playing with defensive focus and offensive discipline. Chris Paul is the catalyst to the success of the Hornets. The Lakers have to stop Paul’s dribble penetration and do a much better job on the screen and roll plays that been hurting the Lakers defense. They have to stop switching the pick and roll with Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol defending Paul.
The Lakers have to control the tempo of the game, play with energy, quickly rotate out to open shooters and rebound. The Lakers need to establish both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in the painted area. Both need several touches, but Gasol needs to focus on making aggressive moves to the basket every time he touches the ball.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, P. Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Hornets: C. Paul, M. Belinelli, T. Ariza, C. Landry, E. Okafor
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT, FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- New Orleans: Cox Sports Television (Bob Licht & Gil McGregor)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- New Orleans: KMEZ 106.7 (Sean Kelley & Gerry Vaillancourt)
- Theo Ratliff ( Left Knee) Out
- Kobe Bryant (Right Knee soreness) Will Play
- Lamar Odom (Sore Left Shoulder) Probable
- Willie Green ( Personal Issues) Day –to- Day