Lakers/Hornets Game 4 Preview & Chat:

Jeff Skibiski —  April 24, 2011

It’s safe to say that any panic that swept through Lakerdom after losing Game 1 only one week ago is long gone by now as L.A. has a chance to put this series to bed with another road win today. Give the Hornets all the credit in the world for scrapping their way to a somewhat unexpectedly competitive series so far, but as we all witnessed in Game 3, they simply can’t match the Lakers’ talent. I expect New Orleans to put up a fight early on in tonight’s game, which L.A. will need to overcome if it hopes to take a decisive series lead. The Lakers have already reclaimed home court advantage, but today is all about putting a dagger in the undermanned Hornets.

Here are a few keys to look for in tonight’s game:

The Lakers Bigs. The Lakers frontline was the big story of Game 3 as Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom finally asserted their dominance in this series. Try as they might, New Orleans’ Emeka Okafor, Carl Landry and Game 1 hero Aaron Gray simply have no definitive answer for the Lakers’ three-headed monster. Bynum (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Gasol (17 points, 10 rebounds) in particular shined in Game 3, with Andrew dominating the first half and Pau making the Hornets pay in the second. Their effort on the offensive glass was a difference-maker, as the duo was responsible for nine of the Lakers’ 14 offensive rebounds. I give a lot of credit to both players — especially Pau late in the third quarter and fourth when the game was still up for grabs — for being more aggressive from the get-go. The Lakers guards also made a more concerted effort to exploit the Lakers’ size advantage — something they’ll need to replicate in Game 4.

Kobe Bryant’s killer instinct. While the Lakers can overwhelm New Orleans inside, they also have a decided advantage at shooting guard as well where Kobe has pretty much been able to do as he pleases trough three games. Trevor Ariza is a solid defender in his own right, but Bryant was able to shift seamlessly from scorer to passer and back in Game 3, finishing with 30 points on an efficient 10-20 clip. Based on the Lakers’ success down low in Game 3, I expect Kobe to look to get Pau and Andrew involved early on tonight, before his killer instinct takes over late in the game. More than any other Laker other than Derek Fisher, Bryant can taste blood in the water heading into Game 4.

Chris Paul’s MVP-level play. Chris Paul came back down to Earth a bit in Game 3, but his contributions alone were still enough to keep New Orleans afloat for most of the game. Paul wound up with 22 points and eight assists, but unlike Game 1 — and to a lesser extent, Game 2 — he wasn’t able to fully assert his authority on the Lakers in Game 3. L.A. finally seemed to gain some control over the Hornet’s pick and roll in Game 3, but stopping Paul’s speed altogether is probably too much to ask for at this point. As the engine that makes the Hornets go, I’d look for Paul to get off to a quick start and try and rally what will no doubt be a feisty New Orleans crowd. If he can contribute another herculean effort as he did in Game 1, the Hornets have a real chance to tie the series. If he can’t match that, though, New Orleans is going to need someone else to step up. Carl Landry (23 points) tried in Game 3, but is still wasn’t enough to make a true dent in the Lakers improved defense.

Whose bench shows up? After unexpectedly causing the Lakers all kinds of problems on the road, the Hornets bench disappeared in Game 3. Normally, you’d expect a bench to flourish while playing in front New Orleans’ sea of yellow, but that was anything but the case on Friday as they only mustered a combined nine points. Jarrett Jack, Gray, Willie Green and Quincy Pondexter have got to have a larger impact in Game 4 for the Hornets to have any chance of tying the series. On the Lakers’ side, Odom came up with a quietly effective 13 points and nine rebounds in Game 3 that far and away led the Lakers’ subs. He’ll likely need help in Game 4, though.

Jeff Skibiski

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104 responses to Lakers/Hornets Game 4 Preview & Chat:

  1. old school FB&G’ers here -
    this one’s for WARREN!

  2. The real test here today is whether or not the Lakers have a killer instinct.
    I wrote before the last game that we’d win that night and lose game 4 today because we’ll be somewhat relaxed, and they’ll be playing with a real desperation, (the crowd too, or else this could be their last game of the year).
    I’m afraid we might not come out ready to match the intensity that is no doubt going to be coming from the NOLA team/crowd/city.
    I hope I’m wrong, really, love to see them keep their foot on the throat on this team, keep ‘em down, a win today takes all the wind out of their sails.

    anyone else notice how easily Kobe can get his first step passed his defender, and get to the rim? I don’t recall seeing this as often as he’s been doing in this series.

  3. If Gasol continues his aggressive play, the Lakers should be able to close out this series in 5. From Game 3, I was most impressed by Gasol’s increased intensity. It turns out that he had upper respiratory issues earlier in the series, so that explains his seemingly lethargic and unmotivated performances.

    It’s no secret that when our bigs play the way they did, in addition to Kobe’s never-relenting assassin mode, the Lakers are the toughest team to beat – on the road or at home.

    Also, watching the Spurs-Grizzlies series, I’m glad that Memphis decided to tank their last few regular season games. The Spurs fans are probably as worried as we would be if the Lakers had failed to reclaim HCA.

  4. Kobe’s face last game was about taking out this Hornets team, and a win tonight will definitely put the dagger in them. Great chris h, hopefully the Warren 1st comment will assist the team with good karma. The Laker bigs just need to keep up what they did last game, and the team will be fine tonight.

  5. Love it when the Bigs get the ball early & often. Opponents tend to pick up a couple of early fouls. Kobe also gets better looks and becomes a much more efficient scorer. Get Bynum & Gasol 10-12 shots each, and Kobe can average 7 assist & get his 25 points on 16 shots instead of 22.

    Kobe, believe in the Triangle.

  6. After a couple of hours spent fighting with my laptop, I’m ready to toss it out the window. Nonetheless, for anyone who’s interested:
    http://tinyurl.com/3w8vqnf

  7. Oh joy, Reggie Miller again…

  8. This has been one of the best starts to a game I can remember as far as attacking the inside, and having the focus and the discipline to go to the strengths. If they just keep playing this way, the gap will widen.

  9. Link, anyone?

  10. Trevor sure had a nice 1st quarter.

  11. @ 10, AusPhil: Courtesy of Kobe

  12. I hate it when Kobe plays neither offense nor defense.

  13. Simonoid – Giving Trevor 16 whilst scoring 0 is an interesting approach. I’m clinging to the 7 assists as the silver lining (and the small lead we’re holding at the moment).

    I wish that we weren’t giving up so many offensive rebounds!

  14. Cayucos surfer April 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Take it easy on Kobe.. His shots not falling but he’s got 7 dimes

  15. Cayucos surfer April 24, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Also I think it’s part of phils strategy to have Trevor dominating the ball.. Less time it spends in cp3′s hands, the better

  16. When the Lakers get this way, I just shake my head…

    Slow it down, go inside, work your strengths…

    STOP jacking up shots early in the clock!

  17. AusPhil, surfer: It’s not the shooting that’s doing most of pissing me off; it’s his lack of effort of defense.

  18. Thanks, Simonoid.

  19. That was a bit of an unpleasant end to the half. It feels like we missed an opportunity to open up a big lead. Plus it was a half where NO hit a total of zero three pointers, yet still lead by 4.

    Some concerns, but executing the offense (and Kobe reverting to average FG%) should be enough.

  20. And surfer: yet I’m sure it’s not part of Phil’s strategy to have one of our wings play defense with his hands only. Kobe needs to move his feet and expend more energy on that end.

  21. Every time the lakers get up by 8 or so points, it looks like they completely stop playing right and lose the lead in a blink of an eye.

    The lakers have been terrible in this series at closing out quarters. Lets hope they come out hot to start the 3rd quarter.

  22. We need one of two things to happen. Andrew to figure out how to be intelligent enough to not pick up 2 STUPID fouls early or Pau Gasol to at least pretend to care about defending the paint.

  23. What a pitiful display of effort at the end of that quarter.

  24. It’s basically Ron Artest vs. Trevor Ariza right now; how fun.

  25. Wow. That was an interesting first half.

  26. Kobe should attack the basket every time he has the ball in the 2nd half. Usually you wouldn’t have the energy to do that but since he didn’t expend any in the 1st, maybe he’ll have it left over for the the 2nd. Nothing like lazy pull up long 2′s and not even paying attention on defense. And Pau sure did a good job closing off on help D. wow.

  27. We can just hope that Kobe will expend some energy in the second half.

    The bigger problem is New Orleans’ ease of scoring in the paint. It’s like a red carpet to the lane every time.

  28. Cayucos surfer April 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    I wouldn’t assume anything with phil Jackson.

  29. my impression of Pau playing defense.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-vih8n-PSk

    (safe)

  30. wtf at the announcers saying CP played the ball?

  31. After an ominous start to the 2nd half, the Lakers are finally starting to dig in defensively. After spending the first half trying to earn their buddy Trevor a contract extension, they’ve finally begun to trust his jump shot, so to speak.

  32. Hornets already in the penalty, therefore, the bigs should receive several touches and our perimeter players should be in attack mode. No settling for deep jumpers.

  33. Pau is infuriating me. So many times he is unable to secure the rebound.

    USE YOUR BUTT, box out, and grab the ball with two hands.

  34. Why are they not running iso plays for Artest?

    (Also, raise your hand if you a) were thinking the same thing and b) never in your wildest dreams thought you would be.)

  35. Tra – Pretty much jumpshots since we got into the penalty. No, I don’t understand it either.

    Tej – Preach on. Pau needs to get on the glass in a big way the rest of the game.

  36. @34 – I was screaming the same thing – Artest against Belini is a total mismatch. Unbelievable. Maybe it is too easy. This team is so infuriating to watch.

  37. That was a beautiful hook shot from Kobe, I’ll be remembering it long after this game is over.

  38. The lakers have really not closed out quarters well at all in this series

  39. Also…. hey, defensive rebounds would be nice.

  40. The Lakers are forcing enough misses to win, but are getting beat to the ball after those misses. New Orleans will not make enough first shots to win, but they can make enough second shots to tie this series.

  41. 18 defensive boards from 34 misses is not gonna get it done.

  42. There is “letting them play”, and then there is, “go ahead and fight.”

    This is more the later, than the former, at the moment…

    This is the kind of refereeing that leads to shoving, really dirty play, elbows swinging, and technical/flagrant fouls later in the end of the fourth.

  43. Bynum was looking for the foul there. He should’ve made that.

  44. Bynum is getting mauled out there.

  45. Come on Drew. You have to convert that chippy.

  46. offensive rebounding by the hornets is what cost the Lakers this game.

  47. Phil waited too long to come with Kobe, imo. This is NOT a normal game.

  48. Alright, who sneezed. You guys should know you foul chris Paul when you do that

  49. Lakers putting up some ugly shots.

  50. Lakers just don’t deserve to win this game and frankly probably don’t deserve to advance beyond the first round. They are getting out-rebounded and out-hustled.

  51. I have always given PJ the benefit of the doubt but he absolutely waited too long to bring back the starters tonight

  52. Where is Artest????

  53. Great shots by Blake and Kobe.

  54. Make your free throws!

  55. I hope having 3 guards out there pays off.

  56. I really don’t believe Phil has learned his lesson because he won’t let Andrew Bynum close games. He really can’t make a case for Odom being out there since Odom hasn’t done anything thus far.

    *He’s letting bynum close but it won’t matter if lakers can’t make open shots.

  57. Paul splits a screen and gets a foul call…

    Lamar gets hacked, by two different players, on BOTH forearms, and nothing…

    NBA Refereeing: It’s Fantastic!

    This series might go six, simply because the NBA wants the money for the third home game for its franchise…

    This is the kind of game where the Lakers can only win. Even a loss is not a big issue. Terrible games from Bryant and Odom, and hideous referees, and a home team playing for its life, and they are still close with 2 minutes to go…

  58. Kobe, you’ve got to make that!

  59. It’s a good thing that we’re finding a way to keep the Hornets from hurting us with their decided size advantage down low.

  60. Laker insistence on the three ball sends them back to L.A. tied 2-2. They just didn’t bring the necessary crispness and attention to detail to win on the road. Also, Phil’s slavish devotion to the rotation at the expense of more floor time for Ron Artest and an earlier 4th quarter appearance by Kobe was not good.

  61. Inability to close games out when they are close, same regular season problem manifesting itself here

  62. Kobe hesitated way too much there. Should’ve taken the initial look.

  63. Kobe just turned his ankle and it did not look good

  64. This is still a winnable game.

  65. Pau Gasol, enigma of the Lakers

  66. Are you kidding me, Pau?

  67. Alright; let me call this. If the Lakers get the stop, I’ll say Phil leaves it up to either Kobe or Fish for the win.

  68. Whenever anyone says that Gasol is more important than Kobe to the Lakers this is all the rebuttal anyone needs…

    Gasol is a BIG deal, but he is not Kobe.

  69. *sigh*…

  70. The Lakers are killing me . . .

  71. I do not believe it, down 4, with 9.3 seconds left, ugh…

  72. Pau cost us 3 points in crunch time – 2 with the TO, 1 with the missed FT

  73. Same freaking thing all year. The Lakers just do not get the big stops down the stretch. And no complaining about the Lakers taking to many 3s. They had 3 wide open looks to tie the game and they couldnt knock it down. Got to hit open 3′s when they are there.

  74. If Pau doesn’t return to his form of last season’s title run the Lakers will not win the Championship this year. Last year he had a major effect, this year he has been marginal at best.

  75. Bynum: 9 reb
    Gasol: 4 reb
    Odom: 4 reb

    Paul: 13 reb

  76. My Celtic’s roommate is laying it into me about how his team is getting lots of rest before their next series, and my Lakers are going to be tired and beat up. I just hate it, you know?

  77. Lakers didn’t bring it… again… after figuring out how to beat them.

    2-2 on the first leg of the playoffs.

  78. The game was lost early in the 4th when we couldn’t secure a defensive rebound to save our lives. A couple of times we didn’t get the whistle on drives, but the game was all about NO getting every. single. 50/50 ball. Was anyone surprised to see us lose the jumpball late in the 4th? NO just wanted the game more. In fact, we caught a break there when their fast break basket was waved off due to offensive interference.

    Anyways, congrats Lakers, you have just insured yourself 5 games in 9 days. Hope you’re happy.

  79. 74, really? because NO made 1 field goal over the last 6 minutes of the game. All of NO’s points came on extremely questionable foul calls. And Jack made a very tough shot over Artest, even though Artest can barely jump.

    I don’t normally like to boil the game down to short time periods, but the game was lost when the bench allowed the Hornets to go on a 10-2 run at the beginning of the 4th where Bynum missed a number of gimmes and Brown made some really bad decisions. The game was tied 69-69 at 11:45; The Hornets led 79-71 at 7:00.

    Credit the Hornets for playing well and getting by on free throws in the 4th when Chris Paul was obviously gassed. And of course, tons of credit to Jarrett Jack who was a game high +10.

  80. That game was lost at the close of the second quarter…. Super frustrating to watch.

    The Lakers were on a roll on defense, the Kobe rolls his ankle and falls into the defender for free throws, such a big turn of events because the shot clock was low.

    Andrew Bynum was not very beast like tonight, missing wide open dunks and allowing for too many NO offensive rebounds.

    My question, if it’s Aaron Gray in the game and he sets that pick fornthe high pick with Paul, why is Andrew following him? Cuz of Greyson well known dribble penetration.?

    We have a series now, let’s see which of the jekkyl and Hyde Lakers show up in game five….

    This series reminds me of Houston from two years ago… (little guard torching us). How frustrating.

  81. disappointing loss…now this series goes 6 or most likely 7. our preferred opponent is kicking our ass.

    their superstar has outplayed our superstar except that even if he does we should have enough talent to overcome that. lamar has been very inconsistent in this series. bynum was weak tonite. pau was somewhere between the first two bad games and his solid game 3

  82. Every loss hurts, especially the close ones that could have been avoided with simple things (making freethrows, offensive rebounding, etc).

    Give me comfort, FB&Gers. @58 helped a little.

  83. We should honestly destroy NO in game 5, but we should’ve done the same in other games. I just give up on predicting how this team is going to play. Yeah, back-to-back champs and all that, but they seriously make me want to punch little kids sometimes with how they play.

  84. #60 can just take that tongue out of cheek. I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say that the Hornet bigs have played our vaunted bigs to a stalemate through 4 games. There is no other emotion but pure frustration at this point. This Hornet team is playing hard and disciplined, and the Lakers are not matching them in those categories for long enough stretches, and consequently, this series is tied. Too many possessions ended up in jacked up “out of context” threes and too many defensive possessions ended up in second shots. Kobe’s ankle tweek was a terrifying reminder of how fragile this whole championship endeavor is. Pau not being ready for that pass was so, so brutal. Even if he just has his hands up, he could have fumbled, gathered, and got a shot attempt/foul. Not being ready. the Lakers weren’t ready to start this series, we can only hope they are ready to finish it starting Tuesday.

  85. @79 you’re right. Thats the only reason why Lakers lose every game. Its because the other team WANTED THE WIN MORE.

    Everything else always plays itself out as long as your team wants to win more than the other team.

  86. And while I’m at it – Okafor and Landry had 5 fouls for nearly the entire 4th quarter, right? Why are you not throwing it down to Pau or Drew every possession and making them defend? Eventually you’re going to get the call, even with this ref crew.

  87. Any chance for additional rest before the next series is now gone. Lakers did a poor job rebounding. Odom did not have a good game at all while Chris Paul was simple amazing once again.

    Is this series going to be just like the Lakers-Rockets series of 2009? Is it time to panic yet? How serious will Kobe’s ankle end up being?

  88. Kobe was 5-18 and still had the nerve to chew out Gasol for the bobbled pass… way to encourage your teammates. I support everyone on the Lakers but sometimes I think we might do better if Kobe was more encouraging, less critical.

  89. Did Khloe make it to the game?

  90. If you would allow me to vent a bit…

    I still can’t figure out what the Lakers’ identity is this year. In the past, although simplistic, I could figure out the team (overachievers, underachievers, defensive team, offensive team…even “soft”).

    This year, the team frustrates me til no end. Whenever a game is close with 3 minutes left, what can I rely on…do we hang our hat on D?…or veteran like execution on O? Or Kobe’s clutchness? Or faith in the triangle?

    For me, today was an example of trying everything and succeeding at nothing. I could be feeling this way due to the outcome of the game, but 86 games into the season, I don’t think this is a positive thing, especially for the 2X champs.

    AAAARGH!!!

  91. I’m convinced Phil Jackson wants a close series. How else can you explain not giving the ball to Artest and Bynum? Bynum was doubled every time he touched the ball. How easy is that? All you have to do is throw it to him and you get open looks. And when you don’t throw it down to Bynum you have Artest. The guy can’t be guarded by anyone on that team. The fact the ball doesn’t find these guys is just so frustrating. And forget about the fact that Bynum isn’t on the floor for the last five minutes of games. Phil is up to something.

  92. Zephid, you have a point. But for this team being a two time defending champion, they too often play poorly down the stretch of games. Either not hitting that big shot or getting that huge stop. I have seen it it too many times this season. I am not saying they are a team that plays horribly come crunch time, but too often not very good. What I did like however was that Kobe was making plays for his teammates and did not try to do it all himself.

  93. PJ said the Lakers got punked, wow. Then Barkley states that Fisher has to play better. I still believe that the Lakers win the series, it is just going to be more exciting now and probably down to the wire.

  94. Please get D Howard next year. Trade anybody for him.

  95. Please get a point guard who can defend next year. Oh yea, that isn’t possible.

  96. Just had a bad feeling about that one all night.

    Puzzling that PJ still leaves Andrew out for key defensive possessions, especially when timeouts would allow him to switch him in. I don’t understand that, and I don’t know why you would take Artest out for Shannon to match NO, instead of making one of NO’s guards have to deal with Artest on the block.

    Oh well. Hope to get this done in 6 now.

  97. 92) Well, if Phil is up to something, and actually tanking games. Then I hope he has a time machine, too! Because the Lakers need to go back in time to the 19 game run.

    Phil took Artest out of the game late in the 4th quarter for one play, and put Brown in on defense???!!!!! WHY??? Artest was keyed in on defense and offense this game. CP3 hits a 3 then he puts Artest back in the game with the Lakers down by 5.

    Kobe can no longer go into facilitating mode and try to summon his offense at will. He’s just not capable of doing that. We need to decide right now, either Kobe remains a facilitator the entire game or he’s an offensive player the entire game. Which one is it?

    No Bynum in the 4th quarter until the last 12 seconds of the game. This when Bynum was playing a decent game and LO was stinking up the joint, no bounce in his step, no rebounds, no coast to coast.

    Kobe repeatedly dribbled the ball into the sideline only to be double teamed–this is not a veteran move.

    No defense, no rings. Right now, there are two to three people playing consistent defense…Artest, Bynum and Blake.

    I for one would like to see the Lakers get angry with each other, instead of always pacifying each other. There is no accountability on the Lakers.

  98. It’s now official. After another 4 rebound game and having Landry, a foot shorter, outplay Him every game. Pau’s game has regressed so much that the better Gasol NOW is in Memphis.

    Kobo D on Ariza was embarrassing . Ariza has out played Kobe 3 of 4 games.

    There is no way in the world the Lakers beat OKC. Assuming the even get to the 2nd ROUND,
    They are much faster, much better shooters and with Perkins and Eboka much tougher then Winne
    The Pau and Mr Reality show who left his game with the camera’s on The streets of NO.

  99. “Bynum: 9 reb
    Gasol: 4 reb
    Odom: 4 reb

    Paul: 13 reb”

    The NO bigs didn’t rebound much better (Landry 7, Ariza 6, Okafor 6).

    The comparison is Paul 13 to Fisher 1. Fish played 34:21. Blake played 13:39 and snagged 2 reb.

    The game otherwise was lost by Kobe 5-18 and 22-30 from the line (compared to 23-27 for NO).

  100. Andrew was never in rythym tonight (though Lamar wasn’t either.)

    PJ is right though, the Lakers did get punked. They threw the first punch, got the lead, and when they gave it up (almost within the quarter), they never again took it back again. NO was controlling the game, and even when the Lakers held NO to like 30% fg% in the 3rd quarter, they didn’t gain any ground (or take over the game) because of sloppy execution and the inability to grab a rebound.

    I honestly didn’t think the refs were a factor in this game either – with like 2 minutes to go we had 10 more free throws than them, and all of their bigs were in foul trouble most of the night.

    But I do agree with the consensus that I just can’t figure out what this team is – Kobe looks tired, from the eyes on down, Pau looks the same (sagging eyelids), and Lamar was incognito. There just isn’t a lot of spunk in the Lakers step, as I think they just assume they will win because they are better.

    Any news on Kobe’s ankle?

  101. Second chance points really hurt the Lakers tonight. I went through the play- by-play and if I did it correctly the Hornets had 20 second chance points and they scored on nine of the twelve offensive rebounds. The times the Hornets did not score after the offensive rebound, one was the end of quarter, one the Hornets got the rebound again which they than scored and the other time they missed and the Lakers got the rebound.

    I could not find an site that had second chance points without going through the play-by-play but the Hornets scored on nearly ever second chance opportunity they had.

  102. 96, Blake and Fisher played pretty solid defense on Chris Paul, especially down the stretch. The dude just made difficult shots. I can’t think of a single instance when he didn’t hit a tough shot over a solid contest in he 4th quarter.

    Chris Paul is just a great player; when he’s in the zone, sinking that mid-range jumper like it’s a lay-up, he’s unguardable.

    This was just one of those games that you needed to win before crunch time, and the Lakers were unable to build a lead.