Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers/Hornets Game 1 Reactions

Phillip Barnett —  April 18, 2011

From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Heading into the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs, nobody gave the New Orleans Hornets even a puncher’s chance in a series against the Lakers. Apparently, the Hornets didn’t get the memo. In Game 1 Sunday at Staples, Monty Williams and crew did a number on the two-time defending champs, playing stiff defense for most of the game while slicing and dicing the Los Angeles Lakers with an endless series of pick and rolls. In the end, they earned themselves a fairly stunning upset. I thought the Hornets would win a game in the series, but not Game 1. “It is dangerous,” Kobe Bryant said of losing the opener. “Absolutely. A series can be over quick.” Particularly given how the Lakers performed down the stretch. Here’s how it broke down. …

From Ryan Schwan, At The Hive: The Hornets just shattered a whole host of sweep predictions, winning 109-100 on the defending champion Lakers home court.   The Hornets led for almost every minute of the game, played record-tying mistake free offensive basketball, and weathered a storm of free throws in the Lakers favor to start the game. As always, it was a tremendous team defensive effort that made the win possible as the Hornets combined to limit Bynum with foul trouble and Gasol in general.  That, in turn, made Bryant take most of the shots through the second half, and history has shown that the Lakers are vulnerable when Bryant is being forced to carry most of the load himself. Then, of course, there was the Eater of Souls.

From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: I just noticed what a beautiful day it is outside. Here in Hollywood it’s about 80 degrees. The sun is bathing the city in a smooth, calming light. People are on the sidewalks, skateboarding and enjoying afternoon strolls. The city has not crumbled into a lawless hellscape in which looters run amok and stray dogs feast on the dead. The social contract is holding together and the city’s continuing to function somehow, despite a monstrously bad performance by our Los Angeles Lakers. I can only assume that the people I’m seeing on the streets either aren’t Lakers fans or don’t know how this afternoon’s game turned out. For today, at least, they’re the lucky ones.

From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: This is not a changing of the guard in the West. Not yet. The day is coming when Oklahoma City and maybe New Orleans or Memphis are going to be whooping the Lakers and Spurs in the playoffs and it will not be an upset. There will be a passing torch (or more likely, the ripping of the torch out of Kobe Bryant’s hands, he’s not giving it up willingly). But don’t read that into the Lakers and Spurs dropping their games Sunday. The Lakers and Spurs had bad days (for different reasons) and while they may both have a tougher series than expected one game is not a huge signal. What we really saw is that in the West, the bottom half teams are still very good, and fully capable of beating the elites when the elites are not at their peak. But we’re a ways from saying the Spurs and Lakers are not the teams to beat.

From Rohan, At The Hive: That game was as special as they come. In the upcoming days, we’ll talk about the rest of this series, what the Lakers still have in store for the Hornets, and where we go from here. Right now though, it’s tough to do anything but simply enjoy this victory. We saw vintage Chris Paul, the Jarrett Jack we thought we traded for (and, honestly, a lot more), an absolutely invaluable career night from Aaron Gray, and outstanding coaching from Monty Williams. This is a win I’m going to remember for a long, long time. Where to start? Well, let’s begin with Aaron Gray. It’s rather interesting that on a night where he made a very limited impact on both the offensive and defensive glass, he still contributed in so many ways. With Emeka Okafor in foul trouble all night, Gray hit all five of his shots en route to 11 points.

From Daniel Buerge, Lakers Nation: By now you’ve probably seen or heard that Pau Gasol didn’t have a very good game yesterday. The Laker forward was just 2-9 from the floor and scored just eight points. His contributions elsewhere were minimal as well: six assists and six rebounds. For someone that is supposed to be the second best player on a team favored to win their third straight championship that isn’t going to get the job done. And the Lakers leader isn’t happy about it. When asked during post-game interviews how he felt about Gasol and the effort he put forth Bryant was candid. “If the effort isn’t there,” stated Bryant, “I’m not going to sit around and wait, especially in the playoffs.” In other words – step it up, Pau. While a loss should never be blamed fully on one player, and yesterday is no exception, there is no doubt that the majority of the blame has to fall on Gasol’s broad, Spanish shoulders.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Credit Chris Paul, who was a maestro all game but particularly brilliant with his grand finale. Kudos to New Orleans’ no-name bench, which enjoyed three guys outplaying likely NBA Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom. But criticize the Lakers, too, for letting the Hornets own the playoff opener Sunday at Staples Center, 109-100. “We were the ones responsible for that to happen,” Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. “We have to own up to that.” Gasol acknowledged his subpar outing of eight points on 2-of-9 shooting against clever mixed coverages by New Orleans. He was singled out after the game by All-Star teammate Kobe Bryant for not bringing enough.

From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Long after the Lakers finished fumbling their playoff opener, Pau Gasol stayed on a table in the trainer’s room, flat on his back, eyes closed. There was plenty to ponder. He picked a bad time to be more white swan than black swan, to steal Kobe Bryant’s comparison earlier this season. Gasol was outscored by Aaron Gray, outhustled by Carl Landry and reminded to take better care of his on-court business after the Lakers’ stunning 109-100 loss Sunday to New Orleans. “It’s one and two, it’s me and him,” Bryant said. “We get all the praise when things go our way and you get all the blame when things don’t. It’s part of the seats we sit in.”

From Mark Medina, LA Times: Walking toward the exit of the Lakers’ locker room, a team official paced nervously. “Where … is Pau Gasol?” the official said to himself. The locker room just opened to the media at 11 a.m. Sunday, 90 minutes before the Lakers’ Game 1 matchup with New Orleans and Gasol remained nowhere in sight. That prompted some concerns since this coincided with the team’s rule that players arrive at least 90 minutes for tipoff. Moments later, Lakers forwards Lamar Odom and Ron Artest slipped into the locker room and quickly dressed, hoping to avoid getting caught by assistant coach Frank Hamblen, who’s in charge of monitoring such things. Meanwhile, Lakers forward Luke Walton sat by his locker, laughed at his teammates’ tactics in avoiding detection and remarked the team has set up a standings race on who collected the most “silly fines,” infractions such as arriving late to a game or a cell phone going off that ultimately costs a player at least $50 and goes into a pot for team dinners.

Phillip Barnett

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15 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers/Hornets Game 1 Reactions

  1. The playoffs are about muscle… So it shouldnt be a surprise that the strong guys on the team like Bynum, Artest, Kobe, and even Brown had strong games where the “finesse” players like Gasol and Odom really struggled.

  2. I’m sick of Pau complaining every time he decides not to show up. He absolutely always blames his softness on not getting touches. I didn’t see pau go to the post and raise his hand up for the ball one time. Pau is 7ft with the wing span of someone 7?3? or so. So if he goes to the post and calls for the ball. We can’t miss it on tv and his teammates sure can’t miss him. I saw Bynum, Artest, and Kobe go to the post and call for the ball. Hell, I saw Carl Landry go to the block and calI for the ball, against Pau. The few times Pau did get the ball in the post, he decided to face up instead backing his man down. There was one possession he got the ball a few feet out against Ariza and settled for a running hook and missed. That’s the best shot Pau can get against a 6?8? 210 lbs small forward. And Lamar was basically floating around the 3pt line for most of the game.

    So they need to stfu and play with some aggressiveness and purpose instead of floating around the perimeter all game and give up when a few shots don’t fall in. I think Pau took as many 3pointers as he did hook shots.

    Can Pau and Lamar please read “When the Hornets have the ball” here on FB&G.

  3. Can they put Artest on Landry defensively?

  4. #2: That doesn’t sound like a bad idea except then you have to put Gasol on someone smaller and faster.

    Pau really just looked out of it yesterday on defense. He was flat-footed most of the day and just seemed in something of a fog.

    I think that in game 2 the Lakers just need to get him and Andrew in the post and just keep feeding them. We’ve often seen that in basketball, getting buckets leads to better play on the other side of the ball. Get Pau his touches early and get him engaged.

    As for LO, when was the last time we saw two bad games in a row from Lamar? I think we’ll be fine.

  5. Q, they actually did that during the regular season because for whatever strange reason LO has historically struggled to defend Landry. But the only way that can do that is to either bench Odom or go to a Gasol/Odom/Artest frontline and have Odom defend the 3. The latter is more feasible especially if Odom has to defend Ariza. Odom can just lay off of him and go under screens and force him to make jumpshots.

  6. What made me mad during this game was that although it was clearly obvious that Pau was stinking it up, Phil still chose to close the game out without Bynum.

    I know the man has 11 more rings than I do, but I have to wonder if that was just stubbornness on Phil’s part.

  7. #2. Where did you see Pau complain about not getting the ball. These are the quotes that I read (both from Land O’ Lakers):

    “I was just not very sharp. I couldn’t get into a good rhythm in the first quarter. I didn’t get myself going at all. So it’s up to me to get some energy out there and be a little more aggressive and find ways to find that rhythm.”

    And:

    “Maybe I let (a lack of touches) effect me a little bit early on in the game, but I can’t afford that,” he said. “I’ve got to be more aggressive. I’ve got to make myself available, whether the ball is coming or not. I’ve got to be there, and get myself active and don’t get discouraged whatsoever if the ball is not coming. You’ve got to pursue it sometimes, and in different ways. I had zero offensive rebounds, that’s something I don’t like at all.”

    I can understand that the 2nd quote could be construed as complaining but I don’t see it that way at all. He could use more touches. He could also do more with the touches that he got and pursue the ball better in a variety of ways (as he said himself).

    Yesterday Pau didn’t play well and he’s the easy scapegoat. I get it. But I tire of folks wanting to bury him as if these games are common from him. I was all over twitter yesterday saying the Lakers needed more from Gasol to win. That much is obvious. But to fall back into the same tired story lines of “soft” or “he needs to stfu” like the things he says are completely invalid is off base, imo. Just because a guy plays poorly doesn’t make his opinion invalid. Last I checked, Pau’s an important player. He’s self critical, but also critical of his team. I’m unsure as to why folks want to leave that first part out and act as if he’s only calling out his mates.

  8. We will win this series. But a couple of things we can do:

    1. post Artest up more. If NOH continues with a 3 guard lineup, go inside to Ron.
    2. stop having Kobe bring the ball up, Ariza is too long and knows Kobe’s moves.
    3. post up Kobe more.
    4. take David West, Aaron Gray out…(oops, already done).

  9. Strangely enough, Gasol was one of only three Laker rotation players with major minutes to have a barely positive +/-, him having a +1 to Kobe’s +2 and Artest’s + 3. Bynum was a team-worst -15.

    You can find the game-flow data here:
    http://popcornmachine.net/cgi-bin/gameflow.cgi?date=20110417&game=NORLAL

  10. Darius,
    The reason fans get on Gasol more is very simple. When Kobe struggles in the playoffs he is giving an effort and if his shot is not on he always contributes on the defensive end or on the boards. When Bynum doesn’t shoot well (not very often) he plays his usually great defense and boards. Artest brings it on defense every game. The problem with Gasol is he isn’t a good defensive player. So when his shot if off and he isn’t rebounding he isn’t bringing anything to the table at all and it is frustrating to see.

    9,
    The reason plus/minus is silly is because it has more to do with who is on the court with you than what you are doing. Bynum played half of his minutes with Trey Johnson, Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and the rest of the second unit. They threw the ball into him once. Gasol played every minute with the starting 5 or Lamar.

  11. Kristen Blake with an update on her speckled hubby:

    http://twitter.com/kristenblake2/status/60016513939292160

  12. I think going inside to Ron Artest is fool’s gold. New Orleans will probably live with whatever Artest does in the post against smaller guys.

    Every possession given to Artest is a possession not being used by Kobe, Bynum and Gasol.

  13. I’d love to see Kobe and Pau in the pick-and-roll when the triangle isn’t working for short periods. When they abandon the triangle, it’s usually just for Kobe isolations.

    #8 I agree with Kobe not taking the ball up the court. It’s unnecessary energy, especially for someone we need to play 40+ minutes.

  14. #8 & 13- Completely agree. Also, let’s get the ball up the court faster than we have been. Shannon does a better job of this but Fish often takes almost all of the 8 seconds to get it past half court. We are not a run & gun team clearly, but getting into our sets earlier in the clock would give us time to run the offense and make the opposing team work harder on the defensive end.

    Of course if we do this it would also be nice to see fewer of the long jumpers (Fish, Odom & Shannon I’m talking to you) with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. Run the offense. Work the ball into the post. More than once if necessary. Patience, execution and north-south ball movement (rather than just around the perimeter) will make good things happen.