Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers/Hornets Game 2 Reactions

Phillip Barnett —  April 21, 2011

From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: In Game 1, Bynum never gave himself an opportunity to make an impact, because he was saddled with foul trouble. Wednesday night, he solved that problem, and was arguably the best player on the floor for the Lakers. Offensively, Bynum was extremely aggressive, whether facing up on Aaron Gray with short jumpers, or working on the block. In one outstanding second quarter sequence, Bynum used a nice baby hook to score on one end, hustled back in time to gain position on Emeka Okafor for a rock solid defensive rebound, then worked his way back through the lane at the other end, fielding a terrible lob from Shannon Brown, gathering and finishing for the and-one.

From J.A. Adande, Daily Dime: Lamar Odom made things easier on the media than the Lakers have made things for themselves lately. You know, the old “Player receives award, then proves why he got it” angle. The Sixth Man of the Year giving the Lakers the boost off the bench they needed was one of the only things that worked for them offensively Wednesday night. That and Andrew Bynum. They combined for 33 of the Lakers’ points in their 87-78 Game 2 victory over the Hornets on a night Kobe Bryant scored 11 points and Pau Gasol once again couldn’t establish himself inside. So the Lakers are tied 1-1 in this first-round series even though they haven’t regained their stride, haven’t dictated how these games will be played, haven’t even given their coach a clue about what to expect from them. “Who knows?” Jackson said. “Who knows how we’re going to react to the next game?”

From Michael McNamara, Hornets 247: For three days, the focus has been on whether or not the Lakers could get Pau Gasol more involved, while few mentioned the subpar showings Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum had in the first game of this series. Pau struggled yet again in game two, but the Lakers evened the series with the Hornets due to the immensely efficient performances by Bynum and the newly crowned 6th man of the year Lamar Odom. The two combined for 33 points on 16 of 23 shooting in LA’s 87-78 victory over the Hornets. The focus for LA was clear from the start, as they made every effort to get the ball into the post on the opening possessions. Bynum got the ball early and often, as he was successful in both scoring on the low block and in getting Emeka Okafor into foul trouble. Much like the first game, Okafor picked up two fouls early on and spent almost all of the first half on the bench. While Bynum was a beast on the block, Odom provided the spark that the Lakers so desperately needed. Down by as many as eight late in the first quarter, Odom came in and scored 6 points during a 9-1 Lakers run that tied the score at 23 after one quarter.

From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: When the Lakers were tearing through the league after the All-Star break, piling up signature wins one after the next, their identity was grounded in defense. The rise of Andrew Bynum transformed the champs’ halfcourt D into an instrument of cruelty and suffocation. But they fell into some bad habits as the regular season drew to a close, and in Game One of their playoff series against the Hornets, their defensive performance could scarcely have been worse. Disorganized, a step slow both mentally and physically, they were embarrassed by Chris Paul and his usually unremarkable supporting crew. To even the series at one victory apiece, Phil Jackson had to spend the past few days reinstalling discipline, aggression and sound technique at the defensive end of the floor. His efforts, we saw tonight, were a success.

From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: It may not have looked like it, not with Pau Gasol being called “soft” every time he tried to force a shot through Aaron Gray and Trevor Ariza, or Kobe Bryant airballing shots late on his way to a 3-10 shooting night, but the Lakers have righted this ship. We don’t know how long this will last, it could be shot to pieces by Game 3, but this is a step in the right direction. For one, they forced Chris Paul to the baseline. This has been Phil Jackson’s modus operandi with point guards for years, and not only did the quick help and push force Paul out of his initial wants and needs with the ball, it effectively forced him out of the play. Because the Hornets take so long to get into their sets, two passes following the trap the ball would be in Trevor Ariza’s hands with the shot clock winding down, and Paul would be stuck on the baseline like some sort of Eddie House-type. Not the MVP-type that owned Game 1.

From John Krolik, Pro Basketball Talk: It wasn’t pretty, but the Los Angeles Lakers were able to even up their series against the New Orleans Hornets with relative ease. The Hornets were able to shock the Lakers in Game 1 because Los Angeles failed in two fundamental areas: they didn’t establish their big men on offense, and they didn’t contain Chris Paul on pick-and-rolls. On Wednesday, Phil Jackson showed why he has more rings as a head coach than he has fingers; he knows how to make adjustments. Before the game, Jackson said that the Lakers defended “more than half” of the 70 screen-rolls the Hornets ran on Sunday incorrectly, which allowed Chris Paul to run amok. In Game 2, the Lakers were able to keep Paul in check by putting bigger defenders on him (Kobe Bryant started the game on Paul, and Ron Artest even guarded him for a few possessions), putting the quicker Steve Blake on him for a stretch, and trapping him effectively to make him give up the ball:

From Ramneet Singh, Lakers NationUnlike Game 1 where the Lakers did not often pass the ball to their big men down low, the team was making a more of an effort to feed the ball in the paint. The Lakers’ front-court got a break when Hornets’ center Emeka Okafor had to leave the game due to two foul, and this allowed Bynum and Gasol to dominate the paint. Five of the Lakers’ first six shots were attempted in the paint, and the team’s two seven footers were demanding the ball. Nevertheless, the Lakers were not playing their best on the defensive end and most of the energy was being used trying to find shots. At the 7:00 mark of the second quarter, the Lakers held a mere one point lead, 11-10. The team was trying to get its big men more involved, but in the process players like Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest were ostracized from the offense. In addition, the Lakers had yet to find an answer for Chris Paul, who was able to break down the defense and find open shots for himself and his teammates. And as the quarter progressed, the Lakers’ offense became stagnant and the players were unable to knock down open shots. Derek Fisher had five good, open looks from the field but he only hit one shot. With the Lakers’ deep shot attempts, the Hornets were able to run in transition and catch the Lakers’ off-guard.

From Janis Carr, OC Register: For much of the Lakers’ first two playoff games, Pau Gasol has looked lost on offense, his usual dominating inside play having gone astray. The situation isn’t lost on the Lakers forward, though. He sees what everyone else sees on the court,  sees what everyone else sees on the box score. He has made just four of 19 shots in two games against a much smaller New Orleans Hornets team and can’t quite figure out why. But he certainly is not feeling sorry for himself. “No, it’s not great, it’s not usual for me. But I think it’s hopeful. I can’t shoot worse than I’m shooting now,” Gasol said, finding a small bright spot. “So, if I get myself aggressive out there, watch some tape and get batter looks. it will improve. “And I can continue to contribute.”
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: The Lakers showed up later than their fans Wednesday, a stunner on its own. But they avoided another indignity despite a mountain of ominous signs, managing to hold off the New Orleans Hornets, 87-78, in Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs. Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant had unbelievably bad nights, but the Lakers still evened the best-of seven series at Staples Center. If not for Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom, they’d be morosely pondering a two-game deficit on their Thursday afternoon flight to New Orleans, where Games 3 and 4 take place this weekend. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson might want to bring along some more sage to burn. The inconsistency that plagued the Lakers throughout the regular season continued to linger. Another spiritual cleansing might be in order.

From Mark Medina, LA Times: With the Staples Center crowd cheering during each swing of momentum as if it were an elimination game, Lakers forward Lamar Odom stepped onto center court. He had just accepted the award as the NBA’s sixth man of the year, but it’s conceivable that the enthusiasm also represented a boost of support to a team that played Game 1 of its first-round playoffs match-up against New Orleans with the intensity of a regular-season game in mid-January. The scene provided a good illustration of Phil Jackson’s motivational tactic Wednesday during morning shootaround that the announcement of Odom’s award a day before Game 2 served one specific purpose. “The reason that they made sure Lamar had this award was this could be the last time he plays today in front of his whole team,” Jackson said with a smile. “They want to make sure that award gets to them at the right time and to go out and prove them wrong.”

Phillip Barnett

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17 responses to Around the World (Wide Web): Lakers/Hornets Game 2 Reactions

  1. Did anyone notice that Andrew Bynum wasn’t just playing aggressive? He was constantly barking out orders ton his teammates on both sides of the ball and was even seen yelling at Brian Shaw on the bench. You don’t want to over react to two games… But it’s really been since the All Star break. We are seeing a transision from Gasol to Bynum. A passing of the torch. The second best player and the leader of our defense is now Amdrew Bynum. As Lamar Odom said after the game… “This is his time.” not a moment too soon Andrew… We’ve been waiting.

  2. Great observation Aaron…I really noticed that in the second half when Bynum yelled at Brown to clear the lane for his post move. If we had this version of Bynum going forward in the playoffs, I think we could all rest a little easier as Laker fans.

    BTW, anyone else think if the Spurs and OKC meet next round that San Antonio has a prayer of beating them? OKC looks white hot and on a mission.

  3. Aaron, I noticed that to. I think it was in the 4th quarter he saw what he wanted to do, told shannon to get the hell out way, got in position and go the entry pass from Odom and scored. Zephid posted an article yesterday about how smart Bynum is and by the way Bynum speaks about the offense, defense and even his injuries, he truly understands how things work and how to get things done on the court.

    But that’s what I want to see Pau do every now and then. He should set things up for himself and demand the ball every once in a while. I know that’s not his style or personality. But it works. The players listen. I thought Pau did a much better job of being involved in the game last night. Now his adjustment will be how to get his shots off in rhythm. We wanted him to be aggressive, he was and wasn’t successful. In game 3 I would like Pau to stay aggressive and be more decisive, but not force things. Meaning if he catches the ball 10 ft out with his back to the basket against grey. Don’t try to back him in. Either face up and take the jumpshot, drive to the basket or kick it out and repost. If he catches the ball 5 ft out, just go up and over his defender. Then use counters when the defense adjust. In game two he was trying to back down the much stronger Okafor and the bigger (girth wise) Grey that resulted in contested off balance jumpers. But Pau is in a mini funk so I would like to see the team make a concerted effort to get Pau some easy buckets to boost his confidence. They should run a mix of P&R with Kobe and Gasol and some high low action with Pau and Bynum since the attention will be on Bynum next. Hopefully Pau gets some shots to fall early.

  4. Excellent article on Andrew Bynum. Our paint patrolling beast is a computer geek! :)

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1184609/1/index.htm

  5. Last night showed how great Chris Paul was just as much as the first game in it’s way. He finished with 20 points. 6 of those game off opportunistic end of quarter 3 pointers. Another 4 or 5 came off luring Kobe into HORRIBLE fouls on jump shots. Another 2 came on a contested jump shot as impressive as any of Kobe’s difficult shots- except he’s shorter and has less hops so had to use arc instead. Then he probably had another 4 points from other fouls he created out of the blue. In total, he may have had 4 or 5 points getting the shots he’s usually comfortable with. The rest he completely manufactured.

    We’re used to seeing this from Kobe, but CP3 did it in so much more of a controlled, considered way. Kobe relies on his accurate belief that he is superhuman, while Chris Paul just seems to maximizing his very human potential. I love watching him play. Even the flopping is masterful.

  6. Mimsy,
    Someone posted that yesterday. I urge everyone to read it. One of the more interesting “basketball” pieces will read. That might have something to do with the basketball player being covered. I really don’t carenabout the human I am rooting for. I really only care about howntheynplay on the basketball court. But for those who like to root for a personality, an intellect, and just a quality human being… It looks like Andrew Bynum could be your guy.

  7. Finally Jackson left Bynum in the end of the game. Good game by Bynum!

  8. Heading to Indiana for Game 3 of Bulls-Pacers tonight. I’m going with a bunch of Bulls fans, we’ll be surrounded by Pacers faithful, so I’m wearing a Lakers jersey to confuse the hell out of people :D

    The Bynum article is great. SI really does the best profile pieces out there.

  9. #8 — Just to add to the confusion, I hope that it’s a Ron Artest Lakers jersey!

    Bynum was absolutely the best player on the floor last night. Attitude, performance, hustle, leadership… everything. Down the stretch when Kobe went into takeover mode, I was yelling “get the ball to Drew!” so loud I think my neighbors dialed 9-1 just in case.

  10. #8Rodmans LAker Jers?

  11. Drew’s come into his own as a teammate this season. He earned his stripes in the locker room in last year’s playoffs, playing through the pain so he could help the team in any way. It was evident from opening night at the ring ceremony that the other Lakers noticed what he’d done last May and June, and they appreciated him for it.

    The fact that he’s now become a vocal leader on the court is just a natural evolution of that respect he’s gained among the players and coaches. No one should be surprised by it — keep in mind, when the Lakers were tanking at the close of the regular season it was Bynum who was most outspoken about the problems at hand.

    Players lead in different ways, and each man will use his own style. Bynum’s definitely cut from the Kobe mode — he’s going to work and yell and fight and push to get people over the hump. Last night was really the first big game in which one could argue he carried the bulk of the load. I suspect it won’t be the last in the years and months to come.

    Now if they can just get Pau going again, it’ll be a much more enjoyable postseason.

    And as to TheLakeShow’s question, no, I don’t see San Antonio topping the Thunder. That team honestly scares me more than anyone in the field, including Chicago and Miami.

  12. I have so much hatred for Henry Abbott…it’s not even funny. Did Kobe sleep with his wife/girl friend!? Seriously what the hell did Kobe do to this guy? He will find every reason to blame Kobe for a loss and will find every reason to not give Kobe any credit for wins. The problem is that it’s not only Abbott. Damn near all of our sports media does the same crap.

    If he gets to 6 titles, then they will say “oh he didn’t do it on his own as the best player on his team.”

    If he gets to 7 titles they will say that competition was weak during his title runs and really only 4 of
    those titles were his own.

    If he gets more points, then they will say that he took longer than MJ and the defenses weren’t as good while he played. Nothing is ever good enough when it comes to Kobe.

    81 points? Oh well he played a crappy defensive team and that would have never happened in NBA times past!

    I love Pau Gasol. I think he is the player that the Lakers need as a #2. He doesn’t demand the ball which allows others to get involved. This is also a curse though because sometimes we need him to be aggressive and he disappears. He played great at the beginning of the season, but I don’t ever wanna hear Gasol and MVP in the same sentence again. When an average player that is 4 inches shorter than you can push you around, then you are not an MVP caliber player.
    @#%# Kelly Dwyer and Henry Abbott. Mostly Abbott in his ear.
    Anyway /rant off.

  13. #13. Ken, what did he say exactly? Also, Dwyer, too? Why KD? If you’d rather email me, please do. Thanks.

  14. 15. I think ken is referring to Abbots demonstration in the Espn video on the page.

    And Dwyer is usually a harsh critic of Kobe.

  15. #15. I’ve always viewed Dwyer as fair. He’s hard on Kobe but he’s also quick to recognize his brilliance.

    Funny thing is, Dwyer’s hard on all the truly great players that have the traits of Kobe (and Jordan). He wants them to play the “right” way all the time because he knows that they know what the right way is. Dwyer, as a Bulls fan mind you, was also very hard on Jordan but always one of Pippen’s staunches supporters. We all know the difference in those players’ games.

    In the end though, I can understand being upset with Henry (who *is* quick to point the finger at Kobe) but I don’t see it as easily with Dwyer.

  16. Sorry Darius…

    That rant was mostly about Abbott. Dwyer is more about the accumulation than anything else. I’m just sick of the double standards as they apply to Kobe/Jordan. Well honestly, as they apply to Kobe and seemingly none of the other superstars.