Game 5 Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Hornets

Darius Soriano —  April 26, 2011

Like it or not, questions will be answered tonight. Is Kobe’s ankle really okay enough to play on? If so, good enough play effectively? Will the Lakers go back to playing physically with Chris Paul to limit his effectiveness? Will the confidence that Andrew Bynum showed in post practice interviews translate to the court? (“Our offense will be better. Our defense will be better. We will win game 5.)

The Lakers know how important this game 5 is. A loss means facing elimination on the road for the first time since the 2008 Finals. Winning means the chance to close out the series on the road in game 6 – something they’ve done quite well over the past three seasons. Tonight’s game may not be for all the marbles, but the loser will see their window of opportunity to advance nearly close completely.

A few things I hope to see in this game:

*A consistent approach throughout the game on offense. In game 4, Ron Artest scored 16 points in the first half on 7-9 shooting. He ended the game, however, with those same 16 points on 7-10 shooting. Early on, Gasol showed flashes of early success in the post and from the shallow wing only to not get as many opportunities as the game progressed. Kobe didn’t score (going 0-7 from the field) in the first half but distributed expertly for 7 assists in those first 24 minutes, only to go off for 17 points in the 2nd half while only tallying 1 additional dime. I’d prefer not see another game with a bipolar approach on offense. The Lakers must commit to running their sets (which do include isolations) and look to get everyone involved early while sticking with that plan throughout the rest of the game. Gasol, Bynum, and Ron could all use consistent touches in the paint to get them going and Kobe – with his bum wheel – could do well for himself by playing the set up man while possessing the ball and looking to move into positions to score while moving off the ball.

*Physical, smart defense on Paul, Ariza, and Landry. These three Hornets are the only players that have any damage on offense over the course of the series. Sure Gray, Jack, and Okafor have all been okay in stretches. But New Orleans’ offense is predicated off these three guys producing if they hope to win. Guarding Paul is not easy, but as Beckley Mason describes, it involves the Lakers getting a little rough:

There’s no magic elixir that can fully neutralize Paul and the New Orleans attack, no cunning tactical trick that will suddenly close the angles that Paul creates, or predict his path in and out of the lane. The Lakers just need to remember that he’s barely six feet tall, and his teammates define the term “Replacement Value.” Touch him, bully him, rotate a few players on him whose only directive is to get in his way, and compete with him for every inch, however menial. That’s the key: multiple players can expend maximum energy to bother Paul, but New Orleans has only one savior.

As for Ariza and Landry, the plan remains the same: make them shoot jumpers. Too often Ariza has been able to work off the dribble to find the painted area. The Lakers must treat him like Rondo – lay off and when he drives sit on his right hand. Ariza has a boat load of confidence right now but that can be a curse too. He has no qualms with firing up a contested 18 footer off the dribble if that’s what’s presented. Present it more, please. Landry, meanwhile has found his success lurking around the paint being nurtured off the scraps that Chris Paul and the other Hornets’ guards feed him. Like a baby chick in a sea of his siblings, Landry is finding creases in the crowd and getting to the front of the line with his mouth open and eating like a king. The Lakers need to more effectively mark him in space and do a better job of cutting off passing angles when the ball is penetrated. An improved job on Paul will help with limiting Landry, but a more active approach to finding and sticking with him in space will too. One match up that we’ve not seen that much is Artest on Landry, but I wouldn’t mind seeing some of it tonight. Ron has the foot speed to stay with Landry and has the strength to keep him from getting to the paint easily. Plus, Ron has the hand quickness to poke the ball away from a big man that relies heavily on off the dribble work to get to the paint. If the Lakers go small tonight, I wouldn’t mind seeing Ron do battle with NO’s power forward.

*Rebound, rebound, rebound. Last year, we often reiterated Pat Riley’s mantra of “no rebounds, no rings”. The Lakers would do well to remember what the old Showtime coach preached. Mind you, I’m not just speaking about the big men here. The Lakers guards must close down the free throw line and chase down long rebounds. We can’t ask Bynum, Gasol, and Odom to gain inside position and battle the Hornets’ bigs for space and then complain when the ball bounces long and a Hornet finds a way to chase down the ball. The Lakers guards can not leak out and mustn’t stand flat footed when the ball comes off the rim. Defensive possessions end with a defensive rebound; chase the ball down to finish the play.

*A better night from Odom. Yesterday I was quite frank about Odom’s lack of production and how it’s hurt this team. And while I stand by the fact that Bynum should be closing games, it doesn’t change the fact that LO likely will be playing in the closing minutes of a tight contest. All year Odom’s been a key performer and in games 2 and 3 his efforts helped secure wins. Tonight, the Lakers will need Odom to perform at those levels; the level that earned him the 6th MOY award. Odom’s long been one of my favorite players and he’s been an underrated player in terms of stepping up in crucial games. Tonight, I’d like to see the rebounding, coast to coast driving, setting up teammates for easy buckets version of LO. He’s certainly got it in him.

Games like these are the ones that championship teams win. The star player is banged up, but he’s played through injury before and knows how to do so smartly. The role players are at home and normally play better in those circumstances. The big men have been up and down but know that they’re the key to winning this series. Tonight the Lakers should put it all together and come out strong. The Hornets aren’t going to give this game away; the Lakers must take it from them. Let’s see them do it tonight.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time locally on Fox Sports West and nationally on TNT.

Darius Soriano

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107 responses to Game 5 Preview & Chat: Lakers vs. Hornets

  1. If we ever needed some Warren magic……for you buddy

  2. Let’s go Lakers! It’s Man-Up Time!! Four of our five starters clearly outmatch their starters, so there’s no excuse for losing tonight. Simply, go out and play like your paycheck depends on it.

  3. Two new rules for tonight’s offense:

    1. for every mid-range or long-range jumper attempted, one shot has to be taken from the low post or preferrably inside the paint

    2. every one of those longer jumpers from 15 feet or further out has to be preceded by someone touching the ball in the low post

    Go Lakers!

    Also, make sure to check out Simmons’ article on the Kings fiasco, a great write-up (with a few digs on the refereeing in the LAL-SAC series in the WCF):

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/110425&sportCat=nba

  4. We all know Kobe will NOT sit, so it’s up to the TEAM to carry him tonight. Kobe’s carried this team so many times we forget how much heart and soul he puts into each and every game regardless of the severity of the injury.

    Pau, LO, the Killer B’s all need to pull their weight and then some tonight. The only way Kobe gets better is if we don’t need him out there 30+ minutes. Make it a blowout early and maybe Kobe heads back into the locker room for more treatment. Fail to show up and Kobe risks even worse damage to his ankle/foot.

  5. Kobe and Fisher asking Phil to stay one more year, they still don’t understand Phil, will he work hard in the final year ? Game 1 in Orlando, Howard scored 46 pts, but Orlando lost to Atlanta. Let’s Paul score 35 pts, but make sure other players don’t have a chance to beat Lakers. Phil acting like he is rookie coach, it’s is ridiculous. How many teams in the NBA have three big guys like Lakers ? Phil is soft and he made this Lakers team soft too.

  6. I’m not doom and gloom, but I don’t have good vibes for tonight’s game. Staples isn’t known for being a ‘hostile’ arena, so our players have to bring it. I hope that Kobe plays within what he’s capable of and doesn’t try to overdo it. Pound the rock down low. Bynum, Gasol and Odom should all have 14 or more FGA tonight. And wouldn’t it be awesome if we had someone other than Kobe catch fire from behind the arc? Nervous, but ready to see what we do. Go Lakers!!

  7. So I happen to be at Korea at the moment.. Anyone know of a good link where I can catch the game later? XD

  8. I can’t stand Lakers letting Landry look like a world beater. WTF is wrong with LO, seriously? I’m not buying any of his cologne or watch his reality show with the way he’s been playing this series.

  9. It’s funny how the Lakers have kind of repeated the same script over the past 4 seasons. If they split the first two at home, they always win game 3, lose game 4, win game 5, then usually close out in game 6 on the road. One of these days their luck is going to run out …

  10. bluesky-Your comment doesn’t make much sense, Phil’s “soft” approach has yielded more success than ANY other professional sports coach.

    Tonight, we need LO to be LO and Pau to be Pau. If we get that, we will win.

  11. Kobe’s “it’s not my ankle..it’s my foot” comments are to protect his Kobe VI brand. It defintely looks like the ankle based on the replays. Some nice custom-made high top (ditch the low tops for one night) Nikes should do the trick for game 5.

  12. Kwame,
    I would say Gasol has been Gasol and LO has been LO to a certain extent. Odom has always be on an off in the post season from game to game and Pau has always been pushed around by stronger apponents. What the Lakers need to do is make the game boring and go more often to their most potent offensive threats so far in this sereies. And that’s Bynum and Artest. What good is it to have Artest if we won’t make the other team pay for putting their SF on Kobe? What good is it to have the second best Center in the NBA (who just happened to be the only Laker the Hornets bothered double teaming) if LA just goes to him only seven or eight times in the post?

  13. @ Aaron — It’ll help if Drew can stay on the floor. His second whistle — I won’t dignify the refs by calling it a foul — in the first quarter on Sunday went a long way to limiting his effectiveness, by putting him on the bench for more time and/or limiting his aggression.

    That said, when he’s in the game they need to get him the ball more often. Really, feed anyone with good position inside. Long shots leading to run outs for New Orleans is the pathway to a long summer vacation.

  14. I like Artest defending Landry when Lamar is on the floor. Odom can guard any small forward while Ron will take his defensive assignment on Landry personal and stick to him not allowing him to float in the lane for bunnies coming from Chris Paul passes or offensive rebound putbacks. Additionally, Lamar has great length which will help him close out on the 3-point shooters in Bellanelli & Green. But who am I? As much as I may like this idea doesn’t mean an eleven-time NBA coaching champion will.

    Congrat to Ron Artest on winning the NBA Citizenship award. He noticably has made philantropy a priority.

  15. I must say I found it frustrating as a Lakers fan to watch Mem pound SA inside last night, exploiting so much LESS of an advantage against the Spurs than we have against NO. Worse (for me at least), was when SA adjusted by fronting the post and MEM immediately went to high-low action which led to back to back layups. Just perfect preparation, instant recognition, and sharp execution.

    Our players are smart individuals, but we play so stupid so much of the time. Maybe it’s not stupidity, but boredom, but it amounts to the same thing. Come on, boys, let’s see the REAL LAKERS TONIGHT!

  16. Ya I agree Aaron. It’s funny how our 2 defensive players are our best options on offense this series because of the match ups

  17. Ah yes, playoff time at FB&G, and the out of town trolls are just rolling in…

    Thanks for coming by, enjoy the Fish!

    I would be very surprised if Kobe did not play tonight. If he plays, he will play well. He will begin the evening shooting, get to 8 – 10 points, and then become a facilitator in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, ending on a good run for 6-8 points in the 4th.

    Final prediction: Bryant 26 Points (9-19 FGA, 1-4 3PTA, 7-9 FTA) with 7 Rebounds and 8 Assists.

    Lakers win by 12+.

    (Might as well hope for the best, right?)

  18. Was just watching FS West. When the Lakers came jogging out onto the court for the pregame shootaround, Kobe was grimacing and hobbling. Not a good sign.

  19. Not feeling very optimistic about the Lakers in this one…

  20. Lets go Lakers!

  21. If Monty Williams keeps crying about physical play, he’ll never win a playoff series as head coach.

  22. Those of you not limited to watching boxscore/gamecast:

    - How’s Kobe moving on offense and defense?
    - How is the team structure looking for the first part of this quarter?

    Cheers.

  23. @15…couldn’t have said it any better!!

  24. lol at the refs, they are being extremely generous.

  25. Hornets have 7 points worth of good bounces…

    Kobe looks hobbled on defense, which we can attribute to the ankle, but honestly is nothing new.

    Let’s see if Mr. Bryant is saving it up for a defensive stand or two in the late game…

    (Gray just set about 30 feet worth of moving screen…)

  26. I was really hoping that LO’s first shot would not be a jumper. But right on cue, it was.

    Another poor close out to a quarter.

  27. Not looking good for u guys… Still early tho. Anyone care to disagree that winner of game 5 wins series?

  28. The hornets can’t keep shooting 80+%, can they? or is the lakers D that bad?

  29. My nerves are going to be shot tonight. I wanted a blowout from the beginning.

  30. Pathetic, it makes no sense how the Lakers ALWAYS let teams fire uncontested jumpers against them.

    PATHETIC opening quarter, this team cannot “turn on” anything anymore.

  31. this is infuriating

  32. No Defense and no Energy

  33. This team is done. Aside from Bynum, I see no passion or fire. Phil hasn’t made a single adjustment this entire series, and as a result the Hornets look like a far better team than they really are. Even in L.A. lucks out and wins this series, the Lakers have no chance of winning the West.

  34. I guess that’s our excuse so far, that NO is just on fire. How about playing some damn D?!

    It’s good to know that we wanted this game so bad and came out so fired up that we’re down 9 after 1. AT HOME! Can someone tell this team it’s not against the rules to jump on an opponent from the get go. Chicago did it tonight. What’s so f-ing hard about it?!

  35. Thats the way to make a statement lakers, let them score 33 on you in the first quarter. I’m starting to get real angry at this team, every one of their guards is getting anything that they want.

    Hornets are playing loose, Lakers are playing tight…..

    Time to step it up right now…

  36. Not a great start. I wanted more energy and better execution.

  37. Not the start I wanted to see for the Lakers, Hornets missed 3 shots, law of averages for misses have to catch up, right?

  38. Did we give up this many 30 point quarters in the playoffs last year? Or am I remembering with rose-tinted glasses? Just getting shredded by CP3.

    emh101 – I feel your pain!

  39. Seems that the lakers are not into the game. The crowd is not even fired up despite the urgency of the game. And one more thing, when would Phil Jackson shorten his rotation to 8 player I am sick of those dumb fouls by Shanon Brown.

  40. Shannon came to play today, thank god someone did

  41. There we go. I was waiting for all the shooting to regress to the mean.

  42. Great play by Shannon. But let’s keep pounding it inside.

  43. Nice to see Shannon hit those 3s. I’ll take anything productive from any Laker today!

    On a negative Shannon note, I don’t understand the end of the 1st. Takes a 20 footer 13 seconds into the clock, giving NO almost exactly 24 seconds to work their offense (guaranteed them the last shot). THEN, he fouls Jack with 0.4 on the clock. Just not a great sequence for him at all.

    But those 2 triples are winning me back over. I’m totally on the rollercoaster today, living and dying with each possession!

  44. The real question I have is when is Pau finally going to play like the all-star he is. Over the course of the series he has been the 4th or 5th best big on the court which is what is hurting us more than anything else. Especially with Kobe hurting he needs to step up his game and show he is the 2nd best player out there.

  45. Lakers on a 10-0 run, cool.

  46. Short-term, I like Shannon’s threes.

    Long term, I’m afraid it will make his shot selection even worse.

    Edit: and on cue, he jacks up a bad one.

  47. 44. The lakers just need Pau to play one game like he did in November. Preferably this game.

  48. Watching Pau the last few possessions, he just can’t get position. I think it is as simple as that. He is being denied/pushed off his spots and it is impacting his whole game.

  49. 47. there we go he is starting to pick it up a bit.

  50. Kobe! And he got fouled!

  51. WOW KOBE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! SLAAAAAAAAAAAAM DUNK

  52. Hey Aaron remember when you talked trash about Trevor Ariza and said he is a garbage player? You were really incorrect, he’s proven you wrong this series

  53. No More Talk The Rest Of The Night About Kobe’s Ankle. Please.

  54. so frustrating… everytime lakers go on a run Chris Paul gets some BS call

  55. I’m having difficulties with describing that dunk without resorting to loud sound effects.

  56. I guess we’re not allowed to have a lead greater than 2

  57. Oh my FREAKING GRACIOUS! KOBE FOR PRESIDENT!!

  58. Words are not enough. So glad I got to watch Kobe do what he was born to do.

  59. Is that Lorne Michaels sitting next to Jack?

  60. Can we please not let Paul get uncontested jumpers

  61. Clutch we were talking about Pau playing like he did a few months ago not Fish and Kobe playing like they did 10 years ago but we’ll gladly take it.

  62. Clutch we were talking about Pau playing like he did a few months ago not Fish and Kobe playing like they did 10 years ago but we’ll gladly take it.

  63. Im gonna miss watching that man when hes done

  64. Feel free to watch this over and over during halftime.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cqRImCQ5Uw

  65. I’m really confused with how the refs are calling this game. Kobe drives to the hoop and gets whacked about the head and shoulders…no call. They breathe on Chris Paul. Whistle.

    Anyway, it has been an entertaining game so far. Go Lakers!

  66. Considering how things went the first quarter, I’ll take the halftime lead. Kobe put the team on his back, sprained foot and broken fingers there.

  67. Half time up by three. Ill take it. Lakers just need to work hard. Their talent will take care of the rest.

  68. Most of the time, I’m in total disagreement with Chuck Barkley (especially when speaking upon Kobe). But tonight, I agree with him 100% in regards to Kobe’s ankle. I believe he (Kobe) knows that the injury isn’t as serious as everyone is making it out to be (I mean, Seriously, he refused an X-ray and MRI). Did an excellent job of playing possum n the 1st quarter and then took over n the second. Now if he (along with the rest of the team) can bring some effort on the defensive side of the ball, we’ll win this game going away.

  69. Fisher with the trey!

  70. Why does Landry make such UGLY cyrbaby faces?? Ughhhh..

  71. MVP, MVP, MVP

  72. Kobe with another Slam Dunk

  73. Once Again, I Reiterate. No More Talk About Kobe’s Ankle. Thank U.

  74. Ron has had some big offensive plays this series. Love that exploiting of Belineli…

  75. NO is shooting an absurd percentage from 3. Part of that is our fault, but even with that we’re still up 7. No reason at all we shouldn’t win this going away.

    (knock on wood)

  76. anyone have a link that actually works?

  77. Listen look at the replay where Kobe turned his ankle.. He couldn’t be 100%.. The guy is just That good! Give him credit, not too many players could play this exceptional under same circumstance. So yes I will mention hankle!

  78. Now just a little more separation . . . please!

  79. 61. Joel I am fully aware of that, Pau has been steadily playing better and better this game. Which I am more than happy to see.

    And i would like a DNA analysis on Kobe, dude seriously cannot be human.

  80. That was bound to happen with Shannon, you could see earlier in the game that Green was getting under his skin

  81. Fisher is playing very well tonight.

    We need to close the door on this game we can’t let a player as good as Paul hang around.

  82. Dear Phil

    Don’t leave the 2nd unit in for 6 minutes unless we’re up by 15 or so.

    Love,

    kehntangible’s cardiologist

  83. @ 77, Kobemobey: No need for a real response. Your name says it all.

  84. Love the ball movement from the second unit.

  85. Lake Show came to play. Loved the defensive intensity, hustle and pounding it inside. If NOLA hadn’t been jumpshooting gods in the 1st half, Joe Smith and Luke Walton are probably playing right now.

  86. chris – If you have Veetle, this link is HD, the best one out there I’ve found:

    http://veetlesportsnba.blogspot.com/2011/03/channel-1.html

  87. @tra…yep the 3 letter name says it all lol! As I said yes Kobe isn’t a 100% but his 70% is worth more than most players 110%.. Respect the Mamba. He carried this WIN!

  88. There is something weird going on with Chris Paul where if he gets a bigger guy on him he is going to make the jump shot no matter what. He could get more room against Fisher than he has against Odom/Barnes/Pau/Drew but he likes the match-up with the big guys and makes tough jumpers every time.

  89. Hornets aren’t even trying to win the 50/50 battle anymore. And they shot themselves in the foot getting into the penalty so early in the 4th.

    On to game 6!!!!!!!

  90. Kobe got away with a flagrant there. Which…. yeah, not cool, but it makes up for all the times he’s gotten mugged all season with no call

  91. 89. Tyler that is probably becuase when a bigger guy is on him Paul is forced to put more arc on the ball as opposed to his jumpers against fish which look a lot flatter. Also Paul seems to be be better shooting of the dribble in rhythm which he gets to do more against bigger guys who can’t attack his handle.

    Paul is going to get his regardless but the best way to guard him may actually be with smaller players than bigger ones.

  92. Why did Shannon take the J, with 22 seconds left on the shot clock?

  93. I like the kind of physical defensive effort the Hornets bring to the table It will toughen the Lakers up when It comes time to play the Heat or the Celtics

  94. The Lakers took care of business. Good offense (for the most part) and good D (excluding the first quarter). Now back to NO where hopefully they can finish the series.

  95. That was better. Both Offensive and defensive execution were solid after the end of the 1st quarter. Though, I have no idea why they kept letting Ariza (the hot hand) shoot wide open and uncontested threes.

    Very Nice job on the boards tonight.

    Now to get that win on Thursday…

  96. Against all the haters,this one goes out.

  97. Great job on the boards by the Lakers only giving up 3 offensive rebounds and two second chance points, (even though the Hornets were hot in the first half) the Lakers had 22 second chance points on 15 offensive rebounds. Overall a very good game by the Lakers. The second unit with Gasol was great to start the second quarter outscoring the Hornets 10-0 to give the Lakers the lead and turn the game around.

  98. @ 88, Kobemobey: ….. ….. Sorry for the delay, but your name has an affect on me like the Eddie Murphy Movie ‘Coming To America.’ It just incites laughter. Also, I’ve had respect for Killa Kobe ever since he shot those consecutive airballs against Utah way back when. Face it, tonight he got his ‘Denzel’ on. Great acting.

    On to more serious matters. As I mentioned earlier, DEFENSE is what would turn this game around. Once we clamped down on the Championship Side of the ball, we were able to pull away and win comfortably. Now that we smell blood n the water, lets go for the kill on Thursday night in N.O.

  99. We won this game on the boards and on the defensive end. Even in that first quarter, the shots that were going in for them were contested jumpers beyond 15 feet. There were a couple lapses by Ron-Ron when he let Trevor get open for back to back threes in the 3rd quarter, but that was mostly it. We had a 90% defensive rebound rate and a 41% offensive rebound rate. That is getting it done.

  100. Kobe’s foul at the end on Okafor’s face looked like payback for getting hit on the shoulder after his first dunk.

  101. Is it fair to say the Lakers talent hierarchy especially when it comes to the playoffs reads like this…

    1. Kobe
    2. Bynum
    3. Gasol
    4. Artest
    5. Lamar

    This isn’t a knock on Lamar. It’s really a testament to Artest. The playoffs are about muscle and defense, which fits RonRon just fine. After two season with the Lakers we are finally seeing Ron Artest the offensive weapon that he has been on every team before heading to Los Angeles.

  102. @ Aaron (105)

    I don’t know if it’s so much a talent hierarchy as much as it is one of “value.”

    I still believe that Odom has a broader array of skills than Artest, but in the playoffs, where strength, defense, and rebounding are at a premium (hence Bynum’s massive value, when he’s on) Artest’s particular artributes are on point. Plus, with teams tending to put their best wing defender (oftentimes their “3″) on Kobe, Ron frequently gets to match up offensively with the other team’s “2,” (Bellinelli, Marco) who isn’t going to be able to match his strength.

    All of that said, in Ron’s defense, he has made some shots in this series that have been unbelievable–he had a couple of off-balance, 8-foot, fall-away rainbows tonight that were huge.