The Lakers are in trouble. Kind of.
The Hornets are a team the Lakers beat handedly during the regular season by sweeping their four-game set and three of those games included David West, New Orleans’ second-best scorer. Without West, Chris Paul and the Hornets would have to get crafty in order to even keep up with the Lakers. The problem is, while the Lakers aren’t helping matters much on the defensive end by at least some-what containing Paul and owning the glass, they’re also not sticking to what works for them on offense.
In this case, don’t be so quick to blame Kobe Bryant for the Lakers’ ineptness to put up points with ease, he’s tried adjusting his game to see what works best against Paul and the Hornets.
In game one we saw Kobe the aggressor, scoring 34 points along with five assists. Paul however, countered with his own a 33-point, 14-assist game of his own. The Lakers second-leading scorer wasn’t even the second, third or fourth best player on the floor, contributing to eight points and six rebounds. The Hornets ousted to Lakers 109-100.
Reacting to Paul’s brilliance not only scoring, but also in conducting the Hornets’ offense like Gustavo Dudamel would the LA Philharmonic, Bryant decided he would go All-Team Defense on Paul in game two. While it limited what he could do offensively, Paul only had 20 points and 9 assists. Bryant had 11 points in 12 shot attempts. It was ugly, but the Lakers got the 87-78 victory over the Hornets.
After Phil Jackson chimed in on Bryant’s offense, or lack thereof in game two, Bryant again came out looking aggressive, scoring 30 points. The Lakers as a team did well defensively in limiting Paul to 22 points, eight assists and did an even better job locking-down the defensive glass allowing only four offensive boards to the Hornets. It’s highly doubtful the Lakers’ effort in securing rebounds, limiting the Hornets’ second-chance points and Paul’s series-low eight assists aren’t at all correlated. Less ball-handling for Paul equals less shot attempts for the Hornets. The Lakers defeated the Hornets 100-86.
Next: The Hornets out-rebound the Lakers, end up evening up the series
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