Tag: Lakers Hornets Game 5

New Orleans Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Five

Hornets’ coach explains Kobe’s ankle better than Kobe


Kobe Bryant wouldn’t really talk about his injured ankle, and he wasn’t letting doctors look at it either. All Phil Jackson would say was that he was playing.

After the game, it took Hornets coach Monty Williams to sum it up best (as reported by Sam Amick at Sports Illustrated):

“All this talk about his ankle — did it look like his ankle was hurting? OK then. It is what it is. He made a spectacular play.”

The spectacular play in question is his dunk over Ekemka Okafor. Although the one over Carl Landry was pretty good, too.

It would be very Kobe for the treatments to work, for his ankle to feel a lot better and for him to keep that quiet as his own little secret he would spring on the world during the game. Kobe loves him some mind games, some psychological warfare.

Maybe that’s why he and Phil Jackson get along.

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.

Kobe foolishly refuses MRI on ankle, says he will play

Los Angeles Lakers v New Orleans Hornets - Game Four

Kobe Bryant is going to play Tuesday night in Game 5. Nobody really ever doubted that — if his leg was attached he was going.

We laud Kobe for that attitude, we like our athletes to be warriors.

But Kobe also refused X-rays and an MRI on his injury, according to ESPN Los Angeles’ Land o’ Lakers blog.

He doesn’t want the information on what might be wrong. He doesn’t want to hear an answer to the question, it may be the kind of news where the doctor would sit him, so he’s just going to play. Regardless.

Which may backfire. For Kobe and for the Lakers in a Game 5 that will go a long way to deciding the series.

Kobe didn’t speak to the media Monday and all Phil Jackson would say is his star guard is going to play. He sprained his ankle on a fluke play in the fourth quarter Sunday, running across the lane on defense and his toe just kind of caught on the court and his ankle twisted (after the game Kobe said it was more foot than ankle).

The Lakers would struggle without Kobe, but not as much as they will with a hobbling Kobe who keeps shooting despite missing because he can’t get elevation, who can’t defend Chris Paul (which would leave Derek Fisher and Steve Blake with the assignment).

The Lakers strength this series is inside. They don’t exploit it often enough (and Emeka Okafor stepped up last game for his best defensive effort) but the Lakers have that card. Whether they win Game 5 will largely depend on who wins that battle inside.

Kobe matters in this series, but if he plays through an injury that makes him a shadow of himself, it may be in a way he doesn’t want.