I’m still not worried about having to eat my words and it’s still not time to even consider hitting the panic button. But please believe there is cause for concern as the Lake Show got CP3’d in a 109-100 loss in Game 1 of this seven game series.
It’s no secret I thought this series was going to be a broom job, five games at best.
Well…the sweep is dead and Chris Paul killed it.
The whole world knew the Hornets only had one advantage in this series. Problem was the Lakers were expecting the 15 and 10 Paul from the regular season. Instead they got sucker punched by the 33 and 14 CP3 that looked a lot like the guy from a few years back that gave KB24 a run for his money in the MVP race.
New Orleans turned this game on its head by flipping the script on the Lakers.
It was Los Angeles with the size advantage that was supposed to own the paint. The reality is that the Hornets took over in Laker Land setting up shop under the hoop as Paul got into the lane with ease all day long.
Even more unbelievable is that the only “big” the Hornets have is an undersized Emeka Okafor and he was in foul trouble. But that might have been a good thing for NO as Aaron Gray got off the pine and took over. Gray dropped 12 points in 20 minutes and never missed a shot. But Gray’s postseason might be over after a nasty ankle injury late in the game.
Even if the Hornets don’t have Gray going forward it won’t give L.A. anymore of an advantage if the Laker bigs are this lethargic.
Andrew Bynum was active early in the first half but disappeared in the second. Drew had a nice 13 and 9 with a couple blocks but also had a team worst -15 in 25 minutes on the court.
At least Drew had a pulse. Pau was DOA today.
Gasol did nothing. The Spaniard had no intentions to run as he looked like he was on a afternoon job in Hancock Park instead of a marathon race in Downtown L.A. Pau was pathetic. This is not one of those games were you can even begin to argue that he didn’t get enough touches either. There were plenty of opportunities for Pau he just never took advantage of them.
When Gasol had an advantage in the post he took his sweet time like he was waiting for the double-team to come and then never found the open man when he needed to dish. More often than not he would just settle for jumpers or would go to the hole with no designs on rocking the rim.
Kobe was the only one who showed up with playoff intensity…check that…Ron Artest earned his game check today too. But otherwise Kobe carried this team all afternoon long and his back broke when the Lakers needed a lift late. Mamba was cold-blooded as he abused every Hornet – especially Trevor Ariza – dropping a game high 34 on 26 shots.
This is where there is real cause for concern. One of the biggest issues this Laker team has been dealing with in this late season slump is the inability to close. Having the game’s best closer hasn’t mattered and that again was evident today.
There were those usual rushed shots, one and done possessions, defensive miscommunications and turnovers in the last two minutes that nailed the Game 1 coffin shut.
Now this isn’t all about what the Lakers didn’t do. Monty Williams got a great effort out of his team. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that the Hornets only turned it over three times in a 48 minute game of hoops. That’s just unfair. You can’t tell me that stupid things like an untied shoe or a wet patch on the floor or a pair of double D’s in the front row don’t cause three turnovers a night on average in the NBA.
But that is a testament to how well prepared the Hornets were and how unprepared the Lakers were.
You would have thought the biggest advantage of all in this series would be the fist full of rings with the name ‘Phil Jackson’ on them versus the rookie head coach getting his first taste of the playoffs. Well…that one went the New Orleans way too.
PJ and his staff were out coached and outclassed.
It was the Lakers that had to adjust to the Hornets. Usually it’s the champs that are supposed to be the ones that dictate terms. That too didn’t happen.
Maybe this is just the Carl Landry curse. The last time the Lake Show saw the undersized forward in the playoffs they were left with a similar taste of disappointment. Two years ago Landry stepped in for an injured Yao Ming and helped do the unthinkable as the outmanned Houston Rockets took the eventual champs to a deciding Game 7.
I don’t think there’s any way this series goes 7 games but we are talking about the most aloof group of champions I’ve ever seen wear Purple and Gold.
If the Lakers are going to get this thing back on their terms then the bigs have got to assert themselves early. Bynum came out with some of that intensity but faded late. He gets a pass for this game as it’s his first action in a week. As for Lamar and Pau, they’ve got no excuse.
Don’t let those 18 points Odom and Gasol combined for fool you. 8 of them came in absolute garbage time. These guys were invisible today.
Luckily for the Lakers they do have a coach and a core of players capable of turning things around overnight. They also have two days between games to make adjustments as the next installment of this best of seven isn’t until Wednesday.
It’s still not time to panic but this is the playoffs and this was the time of year these guys were supposedly waiting for all year long. If there is a switch, three hours ago would have been the time to flip it. Maybe Phil was too busy unearthing his first ever championship ring to have enough time to remind his locker room what today’s date is. This is the time to shake off the indifference of the regular season and get down to the business of playing like champs every night.
Unlike the regular season this time of year you have to earn the right to keep getting more games on the schedule. The effort the Lakers gave today was one that assumed they’ll be playing in June no matter what. If the new excuse is that they’re waiting for the Conference Finals to turn it on then they could be looking at digging out of an 0-2 hole in the first round to an outmatched team.