Around the World (Wide Web): Game 5 Reactions

Phillip Barnett —  April 27, 2011

From Andy Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: I’ll say this for Kobe, the man doesn’t just play while hurt. He throws all possible caution to the wind when it comes to logical approaches in this state. First, he refuses to get an MRI on his injured ankle like any sane person whose body is their temple would do. From there, it’s not about limping all game to lend a complimentary helping hand, as many (myself included) felt would be the case. Instead, Bryant mustered as much or more aggression as he would on his teenage ankles. The lane was attacked — often to great effect — and he offered some of his most electric elevation since that time he introduced his midsection to Steve Nash’s face. By any sensible measure, the approach doesn’t hold up to sound reason. But guess what? It worked.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPNLA: If we learned anything in the two days leading up to the Lakers’ commanding 106-90 Game 5 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday, it’s that people still don’t trust Kobe Bryant. They called for him to drop the tough-guy act and warned he could be causing further damage down the road. It was too big a risk for the first round against New Orleans, fans cried. What if it were worse than a sprain, like a hairline fracture or even a break? Now, after Bryant dropped a team-high 19 points in 28 minutes and threw in one of the most highlight-worthy dunks of his “SportsCenter” Top 10-laden career, the only question is: What will he do for an encore?

From J.A. Adande, Daily Dime: Guess there was no need for Kobe Bryant to get an X-ray or MRI on his sprained left ankle. You could’ve asked Emeka Okafor or Carl Landry or any other member of the Hornets and they’d say it checked out fine. Talk about resonance. The waves from Bryant’s soaring dunk over Okafor in the second quarter could be felt all over Staples Center. The crowd went from nervous quiet to energized roar. Bryant came back with a layup to erase the Hornets’ last lead of the game, and the Lakers were on their way to their most convincing victory of this first-round series, 106-90, to put them up 3-2. “All this talk about his ankle,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “Did it look like his ankle was hurting? OK then.”

From Ryan Schwan, Hornets247: Yes, the turnovers hurt pretty bad, but the real story of that game was the Lakers simple dominance on the glass. The Hornets couldn’t get an offensive rebound to save their lives, and the Lakers either out-muscled or out-reached the Hornets for multiple second chance points. With the Hornets already struggling defensively, their inability to keep the Lakers one and done on the shots they did miss was killer. Honestly, I was hoping for a little more Aaron Gray in there as the Hornets struggled mightily inside.  In the end, the Lakers outrebounded the Hornets by 17, and more importantly, had 15 offensive rebounds to the Hornets 3.

From Eddie Maisonet, Ed The Sports Fan: Chukwuemeka Ndubuisi Okafor, also known as Emeka Okafor, 28, was born on September 28, 1982 in Houston, Texas. Okafor was laid to rest on Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 after an apparent murder in the first degree at the rim by Kobe Bean Bryant. Emeka is most notably known for being the #2 pick in the 2004 NBA draft, just behind one Dwight Howard. The pallbearers for Okafor’s burial will be his four teammates in the starting lineup: Chris Paul, Willie Green from Detroit, Trevor Ariza and Carl Landry. A special scholarship has been created in honor of Emeka for “valor in stupidity in the lane by centers in the 2004 draft” to honor those who have fallen to one Kobe Bryant.

From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Every once in a while, the easy story is actually the correct story. It sounds overly pat, but trust me, it really happened like this: for most of the first half tonight, the Lakers struggled to get a handle on Game Five of their series against the New Orleans Hornets. They were a step slow, and if we’re being honest, looked a little nervous. With just a few minutes to go before the break, they trailed by four. At that point Kobe Bryant, who needed crutches to leave New Orleans Arena on Sunday and who refused an MRI on his injured ankle, brought the basketball world to its feet with a majestic, swooping dunk over Emeka Okafor. His lightning strike defibrillated the Lakers and changed the energy of the game. Jolted to life by the Mamba, the champs became the aggressors. They turned the dial up on defense and took the battle into the paint, where they overwhelmed the Hornets and won going away, 106 to 90.

From Hannah Bradley, Lakers Nation: The advisement to get an MRI or x–ray is something no one wants to face in his or her lifetime, especially as a professional athlete. Whether you’re playing pick up games at the YMCA or in the first round of the NBA playoffs, the thought of an injury is hard to come to terms with. With this said, when looking at most players they will accept the injury; take a seat on the bench and cheer on their team, hoping for the best. Kobe Bryant isn’t that kind of player. The five-time NBA champion sprained his left ankle in the closing minutes of Game 4 against the Hornets Sunday, forcing Lakers Nation to cross their fingers yet again. In the days leading up to Game 5, Kobe has been receiving moderate care, including icing, electrostimulation and massage. He refused to get either an MRI or a x-ray, much to the dismay of the Lakers front office.

From Johnny Ludden, Yahoo! Sports: The lane opened, and so did Kobe Bryant’s eyes. In that flash of an instant, Bryant’s warped ankle no longer felt stiff. His legs felt alive. He took one hard dribble and exploded up. Emeka Okaor, the New Orleans Hornets center, jumped too. Bryant cocked the ball with his right hand as if it were a hammer held above his head, and … well, this did not end gently for Mr. Okafor. These are the moments when an NBA season can turn, and Kobe knew as much. This game, this series – maybe even these entire playoffs – became his again. Shannon Brown would later joke that the last time he had seen such a ferocious dunk, Kobe had an Afro. Brown and the rest of these Los Angeles Lakers saw the fury in Kobe’s eyes, and they understood.

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Kobe Bryant stormed down the lane, rose into the air and stayed there above 6-foot-10 Emeka Okafor before dropping a hammer dunk that shook the very foundation of Staples Center. The force of the slam fired up the Lakers late in the first half en route to their 106-90 tiebreaking Game 5 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night. The Lakers have won the past 16 series in which they won Game 5 of tied series. Bryant, playing on a sprained left ankle that had Lakers fans panicky in recent days, was quiet in the early going while the Hornets took a nine-point lead early in the second quarter. But Bryant’s dunk 3:31 before halftime energized his team and his town. He had been unhappy with a continuation basket allowed by referees at the other end after his foul on Trevor Ariza, giving New Orleans a 44-40 lead. So Bryant got the ball from Pau Gasol near the free-throw line and drove right into and over Okafor before staring at his nearby bench to finish the statement.

From Vincent Bonsingore, LA Daily News: Magic Johnson stood in a dark hallway at Staples Center Tuesday flashing his famous smile and trying to put Lakers fans at ease. A lot of good it was doing for Lakers Nation. In a little over an hour Kobe Bryant would take the floor against the New Orleans Hornets in Game 5 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, and for the first time in two days the Lakers, their fans and the world would finally see how well his sprained left ankle was holding up. Or not. The tension was real, the Lakers knotted in a 2-2 tie with the surprising Hornets and needing a victory to regain control of the series.

Phillip Barnett