The road to three-peat country just got a little longer. Nobody said this was going to be easy…well…I did say this series was supposed to be easy. I’ve officially eaten my words and did so without any hot sauce. But it burns just the same.
This is not how this series was supposed to go. The Lakers had every advantage (except for one) and they’ve somehow been beaten at their own game twice in this series.
The Hornets get credit for the 93-88 win in Game 3. This wasn’t so much about what the Lakers didn’t do as opposed to what CP3 didn’t do tonight. Chris Paul did everything.
Paul is truly the difference in this series.
Pau Gasol is without a doubt the biggest indifference in the series.
Paul was supposed to be the limping shell of his former self in the playoffs. Gasol was supposed to be the unstoppable force.
The roles have certainly flipped as has the script. A series predicted by yours truly as a sweep is suddenly even at 2 a piece.
CP3’s ridiculous triple-double (27 points, 13 boards, 15 dimes) trumped anything any Laker did tonight. Whereas KB24 went scoreless in the first half, Paul did almost all his scoring in the second half. Mamba dropped 13 of his 17 in the third. But when Paul is posting fantasy wet dreams you can’t win with less that 25 from Kobe.
Were it not for Ron Artest this one would have been over in the first half. Ron Ron abused Marco Belinelli in the post as the Lakers picked on their lone mismatch. I say lone because once again Pau was a no-show.
Gasol still hasn’t appeared in this series. When the Lakers needed a statement game from their bigs Pau was pathetic. His 16 points were fool’s gold and grabbing only 4 boards is inexcusable. Gasol was again passive when he should have been aggressive.
On top of it all Trevor Ariza added insult to injury as he abused his former squad. The Westchester alum did most of his damage in the first half. Trevor set the tone by attacking the rim early.
I must admit, I do miss Ariza. He showed a lot of heart tonight and that carried his team through a rough stretch in the first half.
No excuses. New Orleans was again the better team tonight. Truth be told, the Lakers let their foot off the gas at the wrong time as an 8 point lead evaporated at the end of the first half and the Hornets never looked back.
Kobe was only 5 of 18. Lamar had his worst game of the series. Bynum wasn’t much of a factor. Despite all that this was still a close game late.
Phil Jackson has got to get more focus out of his team. Chris Paul might be the difference in the series but he alone cannot beat the Lakers in two of the next three…right?
It’s still not time to panic. The Hornets have to win in L.A. again if they want to shock the world. Not an impossible feat but one made all the easier when a lack of focus creeps in at the worst time.
Pau isn’t the only one accepting the finger of blame. The Lakers, for whatever reason, still aren’t taking advantage of their greatest strength in this series – size. Still, you can’t help but feel if Gasol were his normal self things would be a lot different.
This series has all the feel of that Houston debacle a couple years ago. Problem is that Houston fiasco occurred in the second round. This is still the opening act of the NBA playoffs. Not a good sign for a team that has had all kinds of motivational problems. Hopefully this was the last ring of the wakeup call.
If these Lakers don’t answer the bell soon then an unthinkable first round knockout could be a real possibility.
I still contend that this series is more so about what the Lakers aren’t doing as opposed to what the Hornets are. However it is impossible to deny that Chris Paul is by far the most important player on the court right now. He’s got the game and he’s even playing the mind games as he got under Kobe’s skin a bit.
All of a sudden this is a best two of three. What else could the Lakers possibly need to get those competitive juices flowing? Hopefully not a Game 7.