Tag: Hornets Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Hornets - Game Six

NBA Playoffs: Chris Paul goes cold, Lakers go on better for effort


For five games, Chris Paul was playing like the best point guard in the game. He had played two super-human games to earn New Orleans two wins against the defending champions, and even in the losses he had been special.

The Hornets needed him to do that. He was their only hope.

And when he crashed back to earth in Game 6 — in part due to good Lakers defense, in part he had an off night and in part because he was passive — the Hornets were totally outmatched. Especially on a night where the Lakers big center Andrew Bynum asserted himself.

The result was the Lakers cruising to a 98-80 win. With the victory the Lakers advance to the second round, where they will face the winner of the Portland/Dallas series.

This series was not easy for the Lakers, but they may be the better for it in the end. They came into this series playing lazy from the end of the season and carried it over to Game 1. By Game 6 the Lakers had found the defensive groove that had them winning 17-of-18 for a stretch in March and looking like contenders.

Paul finished with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, plus he dished out 11 assists. But when faced with another night of good interior defense from the Lakers he became passive. That has been the knock on him in recent years, in part that was caused by injuries. But there seemed to be a frustration to, a realization that for all he could do — as much as he looked and played like the vintage Chris Paul in this series — his team was overmatched.

Meanwhile, Andrew Bynum had 18 points and 12 rebounds — 8 of them on offense. More importantly he and Pau Gasol (each with two blocks) took control of the paint, cutting of drives and turning the Hornets into jump shooters.

The Hornets two easily settled for those jumpers rather than driving into the lane, they aren’t that good at hitting those midrange shots and as a result in the second and third quarter the Lakers started to pull away.

This was by no means a pretty game. The first quarter was filled with ugly offense. Good defense was part of it, but there was just some bad offense too. No motion, missed shots. The Lakers adjusted some but even at the half the score was 40-34 Lakers.

The Lakers move on, but like we said they exit this series better than they came into it. CP3’s play and the heart of the Hornets, their hard effort, forced the Lakers to play closer to their potential. The problem for New Orleans really was that once the Lakers woke up they were going to be out matched.

For the Hornets, seemingly countless questions lie ahead.

Starting with, who will own the team? Can the NBA — which has boosted local sponsorship and increased season tickets while working to get a better lease deal — find local ownership? New Orleans has not been an easy NBA market in the best of times.

Then there is the Chris Paul question. He can leave in the summer of 2012, next season he could put the Hornets in the position the Nuggets were in with Carmelo Anthony this season. Is he frustrated enough with the situation, does he see so little hope that he could try to force his way out? How will the lockout and the new collective bargaining agreement impact all of that?

There are hard questions ahead for the Hornets. But one thing was clear as the fans in New Orleans rained down a “thank you Hornets” chant on their team at the end of that game — New Orleans has some passionate fans that love that team.

NBA Playoffs: Nobody closes out on the road like the Lakers

New Orleans Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Five

Back in the 2009 NBA finals, the Los Angeles Lakers closed out the Orlando Magic in Game 5 on the road. Last playoffs on their way to the finals, the Lakers closed out Oklahoma City, Utah and Phoenix all on the road.

Thursday night, they are back in that situation — they can close out the New Orleans Hornets in New Orleans Arena. The Lakers are up 3-2 in their first round series and the only thing between them and the second round is Chris Paul. Which is no small obstacle.

By Game 6 of a playoff series there are no more tricks, no more adjustments, no more surprises. You know your opponent, they know you. It’s a matter of execution.

For the Hornets, that means a lot of Chris Paul — in the two games the Hornets have won in this series, he simply has been superhuman. When he has been merely human – 20 points and 12 assists in Game 5, for example — they have lost. Look for Paul to be aggressive on the pick-and-roll and try to tear up the Lakers defense again.

With Kobe Bryant’s still sore ankle, Paul will get less of the potentially-disruptive Kobe and more Derek Fisher and Steve Blake. Look for Ron Artest to get time guarding Paul if he  gets hot.

Bryant’s ankle looked good on dunks when he was diving right at the rim in Game 5, but his lateral movement was decidedly slower. Phil Jackson said his ankle is still not 100 percent. Paul right now would eat him alive. Look for the Hornets to attack Kobe until he proves he can defend.

For the Lakers, the equation is simple — pound the ball inside and use your size and skill advantage up front. Really, this is the recipe for every Lakers playoff series, every regular season game and so on. But the Lakers still are more than willing to get away from it. Pau Gasol had his best game in Game 5, matching the physicality of New Orleans, look for him to try and establish that again.

If the Lakers can defend and create turnovers, if they stick with their game plan, they will win and close out on the road again. That is, unless the superhuman Paul shows up again. In which case the traveling parties can get back on a plane bound for Los Angeles and a deciding Game 7 Saturday.

Video: Kobe Bryant ankle looks just fine, ask Emeka Okafor

New Orleans Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Five

The question coming into Game 5 was just how Kobe Bryant’s ankle was going to hold up and impact the Lakers. And in the first quarter, there may have been concerns.

But when Kobe threw down the dunk of the 2011 playoffs so far on the head of Emeka Okafor, his ankle looked fine and he sparked the Lakers to a win that gave them a 3-2 series lead.

And damn, when he wants to Kobe can still get up, can’t he?

NBA Playoffs: It’s not Kobe’s ankle, it’s Chris Paul breaking them

New Orleans Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Two
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Game 5 is about ankles.

The one getting all the hype is Lakers guard Kobe Bryant’s left ankle. His foot is still attached, so he’s playing. That’s not the question.

He twisted his ankle (and foot) at the end of Los Angeles 93-88 loss to New Orleans in Game 4 and has since refused to get an X-ray or an MRI.  That can be taken as a sign that his ankle is not that bad, or that he is stubborn. Take your pick. Maybe even some of both. But it could backfire.

If Kobe’s ankle isn’t right, his shot will be flat and he won’t be of much help defending Hornets point guard Chris Paul tonight in Game 5. And that could be trouble for the Lakers. Maybe.

The other ankles are the ones Paul keeps breaking.

He has torn up the Lakers defense this series, and in the Hornets’ two wins he has been absolutely dominant in the second half. His crossovers are breaking ankles and creating space, but more importantly they are forcing defensive rotations and then he is finding the open man.

Who is knocking it down? In the first half of Game 4, Trevor Ariza didn’t even need Paul’s help (he got plenty of isolations) and made plays. The Hornets will need more of that.

The Lakers were 2-2 in their first-round series against Oklahoma City last year, too, but found their footing in the next two games. History may well repeat itself.

That footing has less to do with Kobe’s ankle and more to do with the Lakers getting back to pounding the ball inside (then making those shots). Hornets center Emeka Okafor was able to keep Andrew Bynum — the real key for these Lakers this series — in check. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were off.

The Lakers need to get a lot of points in the paint, more importantly they need to own the boards. They are the bigger team, but they were outrebounded last game. Paul had as many as Odom and Gasol combined (13). What Pat Riley told the Showtime Lakers years ago remains true for these Lakers today: rebounds equal rings.

The Lakers need to make Paul work — they had success in Game 2 with ball denial — and they need to be physical with him. They are the bigger team; they need to wear him down. He is the Hornets’ chance. Even slow him to average and the Lakers can win. But when he breaks out, he is a perfect key to unlock the Lakers.

At this point, this series is not about adjustments. It’s about execution. Paul has been the master; the Lakers have been spotty. If the Lakers play like that again, their dreams of a three-peat will be in sudden and serious jeopardy. Because we know CP3 will bring it.

Lakers Derrick Caracter arrested on battery charges against woman

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers

UPDATE 6:15 pm: The ugly details have come out. And we mean ugly. Because any time the words “battery” and “pregnant woman” are mixed into the same sentence then ugly is maybe the kindest word you can use.

From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Derrick Caracter, 22, was arrested about 1:18 a.m. Sunday at the IHOP in the 800 block of Canal Street, said New Orleans Police spokeswoman Shereese Harper….

He “started grabbing and pulling” a pregnant waitress, prompting the manager to go outside and flag down a police officer, Harper said. The female officer tried to defuse the situation, Harper said, but Caracter remained obstinate. The officer arrested him.

He was handcuffed and taken to Orleans Parish jail and booked with one count of battery for hitting the waitress, as well as one count each of public intoxication and resisting arrest. Each charge is a municipal violation, police said.

Police have later said it was a cashier and she was not pregnant… so that makes it better? Dude got into a fight with a woman working at an IHOP. There are no good excuses here.

It seems in some ways odd to say this about the Lakers organization, one where the owner’s dates are legendary and his daughter and team president posed for Playboy, but the Lakers are a pretty button down, conservative organization. Separate that from the people in it, I’m saying the organization is much no nonsense and professional.

So this kind of thing…. we will see.

10:08 am: Ways to make sure you do not stick with a veteran team as a rookie include…

Derrick Caracter was arrested on battery charges stemming from an incident near the Lakers hotel in New Orleans, according to the Los Angeles Times. Apparently there was some kind of fight Caracter was involved in, but there are no details of the incident yet.

Caracter is a second-round pick who the Lakers like — he has shown flashes (at Summer League an in the season) of having what it takes to be an NBA power forward, but he is raw and needs a lot of work. He spent some time in the D-League this past season to get the seasoning he needs because he’s not going to get a lot of run on the Lakers. He appeared sparingly in half the teams’ games and looked like a rookie, trying to find his shot against this level of defender and turning the ball over too much because it seems the game was moving too fast for him.

This may or may not impact his future with the Lakers, hard to say how they react. But Caracter slid to the second round of the last draft not because of his talent but because of questions of work ethic and off-the-court concerns. This is not going to help that perception among teams.