The Lakers were expected to sweep the New Orleans Hornets. It was supposed to be a huge mismatch, literally. The Lakers have too much size, too much length, and a championship pedigree. The Hornets backed their way into the playoffs and are without their leading scorer in all-star, David West. But if this is the matchup the Lakers really wanted, they had better be more careful of what they wish for. New Orleans’ game one victory can no longer be considered a fluke and Chris Paul was not a one hit wonder as he led his underdog Hornets to a 93-88 victory.
As Phil Jackson said, “Well it’s a series now, 2-2, best out of three. We punked out out there on the court tonight, gave them twenty second chance points. They earned them.”
You’ve got that right, Phil. It is a series thanks to Chris Paul, who willed his team to win by posting a triple-double. The star point guard eclipsed his game one performance by dishing out 15 assists to go with 27 points and 11 rebounds. The Hornets may be outmatched on paper, but they were still able to outplay and outrebound the heavily favored Lakers by a 39-32 margin.
Paul got plenty of help from his supporting cast. Former Laker, Trevor Ariza and Carl Landry, who the Hornets traded for at the deadline, combined for 35 points on 50 percent shooting.
Meanwhile Kobe Bryant was an awful 5-for-18 from the field for his 17 points and was held scoreless in the first half of a playoff game for the first time since 2004. Game three hero, Lamar Odom had a forgettable 1-for-7 performance for his six points. Pau Gasol had 16 points but the 7-footer could only manage to grab four rebounds, seven less than Paul’s total.
The Lakers are now forced to play an extended first round playoff series, with at least two more games remaining, including a game six for which they must travel back to New Orleans.
To make matters worse, Kobe reinjured his ankle late in the game and was observed leaving the locker room on crutches as he headed towards the team bus.
The Lakers face a pivotal game five on their home floor Tuesday night. The Hornets have made it clear that they’re not going to lay down for the defending champs. What was supposed to be a boring series has been anything but. The task at hand is no longer a mere formality and playing in “The Big Easy” has proven more difficult than the Lakers had anticipated. It is indeed a series and it will be interesting to see if CP3 can outduel The Black Mamba once again.