From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: In Game 3, the Lakers turned the Hornets into a one-and-done group, locking down the defensive glass as New Orleans had only four offensive boards. Sunday, they weren’t nearly as clean. The first half was particularly problematic, when the Lakers delivered the totally non-productive pairing of allowing New Orleans to shoot a high percentage (52.5 percent) while allowing enough offensive boards (six) to help the Hornets to a plus-eight advantage in second chance points over the first 24 minutes, and 20 overall. From there, feel free to criticize the team’s overall effort on the glass. Over the first three games, the Lakers were +21 in total rebounding. Tonight, the Hornets outdid them by seven. Chris Paul had as many rebounds (13) as Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined. That ain’t good.
From ESPN Stats and Info: He’s done it 11 times in his regular-season career, but just once before in the playoffs until Sunday. With 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists, Chris Paul recorded his second career triple-double in the postseason. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us Paul joined Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson as the only players with 25 points, 10 rebounds and 15 assists in a playoff game. Robertson accomplished that feat twice, once in 1962 against the Detroit Pistons and again in 1964 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Paul was also a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line, something Robertson did too in that 1964 game when he was 12-12 in free throws. It’s just the sixth triple-double in the postseason against the Lakers in the last 20 seasons. Paul joins Rajon Rondo, Tim Duncan, Steve Francis and Jason Kidd who did it twice. Paul has 60 points, 20 rebounds and 29 assists in the Hornets’ two wins this series coming within three rebounds of a triple-double in Game 1.
From Joe Gerrity, Hornets 24/7: In a game in which even his own coach was willing to describe as “must win”, Chris Paul delivered one of the most impressive basketball performances of not only his career, but in the entire history of the NBA. Think I’m exaggerating? You didn’t watch the game. The craziest things about it were that he didn’t score a bucket until 23 minutes in, and was playing with an eye AND thumb injury. Regardless, it was a performance that will never be forgotten by anyone in attendance or watching at home. Lakers fans will close their eyes tonight and see Chris Paul crossovers until they awake in the morning. Tomorrow they’ll be flashing back to it all day. CP3 was out-jumping everyone in sight for rebounds, successfully defending Andrew Bynum when need be, getting the crucial points when the Hornets needed them, and even setting up Mbenga on a fast Mbreak. He finished by closing the game just like everyone knew he would, scoring 14 on only five shots in the final quarter. When he wanted the ball, he just went and got it. In fact, he just did whatever he wanted all night long. This CP3 is even better than CP3 from the 2008 playoffs. Tonight was even better than his game one performance, and the team needed every bit of it.
From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: The New Orleans Hornets evened up their first round series with the Los Angeles Lakers behind another mesmerizing Chris Paul performance, leading his team to victory 93-88. No matter the shade of glasses you watch the game with, that should be the story. CP3 had a massive triple double, scoring 27 points, dishing out 15 assists, and pulling down 13 rebounds. He was the best player on the court. He was the second best player on the court, too. Why do I say this? Because you can add up the box scores of any two players on either team, and fail to reach Paul’s contributions to this game. Go ahead and give it a try … Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol? 33 points, but just 10 rebounds and 12 assists. Kobe and Bynum? 28 points, and 15 boards, but only 8 assists. Andrew and Pau? 27 points, 13 boards and 4 assists. Something about that last line seems familiar … oh, that’s right, it looks just like Paul’s. The Lakers starting center and power forward, likely the best combo of center and power forward on any team in the league, combined for the same number of points AND REBOUNDS as a six foot tall point guard in a playoff game.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Bask in the glory that is Chris Paul. We as basketball fans need to step back and revel in great games and great players, and Chris Paul is one and did that. He was dominant Sunday night, he was the reason the Hornets won 93-88 to even the series. He put up 23 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds — in the second half. For the game it was 27 points 15 assists and 13 rebounds. He was draining corner threes, driving the lane and when the defense collapsed was willing to pass to Jarrett Jack — who didn’t have a bucket on the night before that — to hit the dagger with 9 seconds left. Paul was brilliant late in the game in a “how high can he go on the all time point guard list?” kind of way. Paul was embarrassing Derek Fisher with steals and slashing to the rim as well as anyone in the league.
From Rohan, At the Hive: Sometimes, a game leaves you without words. It’s a cliche. It’s also really the only way to open this. Don’t get me wrong. Chris Paul has had better games. Those fans and writers lucky enough to follow him since he first arrived from Wake Forest will certainly tell you so. He has been more productive, more creative, more error-free, more asphyxiating, more irrepressible. There have been games during which he’s inspired genuine sympathy amongst observers on behalf of opposing point guards and coaches. Few of us will forget the nights in Los Angeles, Dallas, Phoenix, or New Orleans that made us wonder if, a decade from now, we’d be talking about Chris Paul, the best point guard ever. But Chris Paul has never played a game quite like this one before.
From Daniel Buerge, Lakers Nation: The Lakers and Hornets took the court tonight in a crucial Game 4 match-up. The implications that tonight’s game carried were certainly extreme. If Los Angeles won they would take a 3-1 series lead heading back to Staples Center with a chance to eliminate the Hornets on their home court. If New Orleans won they would tie the series at 2-2, assuring at least two more games before either team could advance. After an impressive win in Game 3 the Lakers appeared to have regained their composure following a stunning loss in Game 1. A vintage performance from Kobe Bryant coupled with a strong first half from young Andrew Bynum propelled the Lakers to a 100-86 victory. Los Angeles also saw the resurgence of Pau Gasol, who had been virtually nonexistent in the first two games of the series. Gasol picked up his game down the stretch to help seal the game for the Lakers. Heading into tonight’s Game 4 the Lakers were looking to win their third straight game and push New Orleans to the brink of elimination. The Hornets wanted to even the series at two. Only one team would be successful.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams said the Lakers regained “their championship approach” to take a 2-1 lead in this first-round playoff series.Lakers coach Phil Jackson said they sure didn’t have it in losing Game 4 on Sunday night, 93-88, to the Hornets. “We punked out on the court … 20 second-chance points (for New Orleans),” Jackson said. Jackson cited Kobe Bryant’s “very uneven game” as part of the problem, in addition to Chris Paul shredding the Lakers for 27 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds despite a jammed left thumb. About Bryant’s left ankle, which was already sprained but aggravated with 1:32 to play, Jackson said: “I really don’t know.”
From Mark Medina, LA Times: Overlook Kobe Bryant’s scoreless first-half performance. Forget about Chris Paul’s triple-double effort. And accept the Lakers’ nearly three-quarter stretch in which they didn’t grab an offensive rebound. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the Lakers’ 93-88 Game 4 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday, forcing the Lakers to return to New Orleans for Game 6 Thursday and adding further stress to a series they should have controlled. The Lakers could have secured an ugly win if not for numerous lapses in the final 3:30. There were certainly some key plays in those final minutes that went the Lakers’ way, but too many of them were executed the wrong way. Below is a play-by-play account of what went wrong in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: The season that won’t stop teasing Lakers fans reached a new level — annoyance. And fear. The Lakers and their alleged reputation — two-time defending champions, second-seeded team in the Western Conference — were scoffed at again by the New Orleans Hornets. There was absolutely no trepidation as Chris Paul ripped through the Lakers in a 93-88 Hornets victory that evened the first-round playoff series at two games each Sunday night at New Orleans Arena. Paul had 27 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds to become one of the few players ever to get a triple-double against the Lakers in 712 playoff games. Rajon Rondo had one last year. It gets worse from there.
Forget that the only player the Hornets bother double teaming is Bynum who never sees the ball. Forget that the Lakers best offensive player this series is Artest who never sees the ball. What I can’t understand is how Bynum is left off the floor down the stretch even though he has been our second best player since the All Star break. Last night we left our two best defensive players In Bynum and Artest off the floor in crunch time and we lost again. And I still haven’t read a post from Darius on this. The only writer to comment on the Lakers failures down the stretch without Andrew Bynum has been Kevin Ding. At least Bynum played thirty seconds of the final six minutes last night.
Like many Lakers fans, I’m not terribly pleased with the way this series vs the Hornets is going. I did find some solace in remembering how the 2007-2008 Celtics did during their successful title quest. This from Wikipedia:
“May 4: Advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals with a win in Game 7 of the First Round against the Atlanta Hawks.
May 18: Advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals with a win in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.”
In particular, the Hawks nearly handed them their heads; remember?
Any news on how Kobe’s ankle is doing? I heard on the radio this AM that he left the building last night in crutches.
It was Cleveland that nearly beat the Celtics; the Hawks were lucky to push it to 7.
Aaron – you are spot on in your comments above – but don’t undersell the failures of the Lakers to use Artest or Bynum more when they are on the floor. I posted last night about the mismatch Artest has with Belinelli and the Lakers completely ignored him after the first quarter.
It is sad that this team could actually lose this series now because they are ignoring the two players that are performing the best.
John Morris says
Fast PG’s. Look at the difference Darren Collison is making in the Chicago/Indiana series. It sure would be nice not to have to force Kobe to guard the other team’s best player and carry the load offensively.
Daniel Z. says
I think a 12-0 run to close out the 1st half had a big impact on the outcome, just as much as the other critical series mentioned in the recaps above.
Robinred – OK, in any event my point remains valid.
John Morris – Yes, no doubt the Lakers need a PG with afterburners.
As much as I love “smart” (ie immobile) PGs who can run the triangle, how about a “dumb” (ie fast) guy who can run the pick and roll?
Darius Soriano says
#9. You mean Farmar?
That last game was nerve racking.
Lakers simply have to want it more. Almost every time Lakers wanted it more, they won.
Darius Soriano says
A new post is up.
Darius @ 10 – haha! Not THAT dumb.
Darius Soriano says
#13. I’m just saying, careful what you wish for… 🙂