Blog Entry

Is this panic time for the Los Angeles Lakers?

Posted on: April 26, 2011 1:54 pm
Edited on: April 26, 2011 2:08 pm
The New Orleans Hornets and Los Angeles Lakers head into Game 5 tied at 2 games apiece. Posted by Ben Golliver.

Is it panic time for the Los Angeles Lakers? Not ... quite ... yet. But there are certainly reasons for it to feel that way, as their playoff series with the New Orleans Hornets is tied 2-2.

The biggest reason, of course, is Chris Paul's electric brilliance and will. Paul has engineered two wins so far this series, breaking down L.A.'s defense off the dribble and stubbornly carrying his team through Laker runs, imbuing a relatively weak supporting cast with confidence in the face of L.A.'s size and skill.

The second biggest reason is the status of Kobe Bryant's sprained ankle. As of Tuesday, Bryant was refusing tests on the ankle and saying that he would play in Game 5. Bryant has shown the ability to adjust his shot while playing on a bum ankle, but it's his lateral movement on defense that is of larger concern. The Lakers have used him to bump and bother Paul, sometimes in full-court manner, and a bad wheel makes that process infinitely more difficult and painful. Paul made it clear he was ready for war with Bryant in Game 4 and surely Bryant is up to the challenge. How will playing with pain affect his decision-making and shot selection? Will Lakers coach Phil Jackson adjust his minutes in any way, or use it as an excuse to pound the ball inside more often, particularly early?

Any time you're dealing with a superstar you struggle to stop, as well as an injury to your own superstar, it's enough to raise the blood pressure. But L.A. has won twice in this series already, still possesses home court advantage and can take solace in the fact that superhero efforts don't come along every night. 

Indeed, this series has been as much about players 4-10 as it has been about Paul vs. Bryant. During the Hornets wins, New Orleans' bench averaed 28.5 points per game (a figure propped up a bit by a monster Game 1). During Lakers wins, New Orleans' bench averaged 11 points per game. Hornets shooters -- Marco Belinelli, Willie Green and Jarrett Jack -- are the definition of "hot or not." They've proven to be inconsistent through four games. It's possible, if not probable, they could prove to be unreliable over the next three, despite Paul's best efforts to make their lives easy.

Similarly, L.A.'s bench has been up and down this series, although the peaks and valleys aren't as steep. In Hornets wins, the Lakers bench is averaging 19.5 points per game. In Lakers wins, L.A.'s bench is averaging 23.5 points per game. The headliner in those numbers is, of course, Lamar Odom, who presented New Orleans with a lot of problems in Games 2 and 3, but simply couldn't buy a basket in Game 4. Plus, he wasn't consistently assertive enough to make up for it at the free throw line, on defense, or on the glass. A return to form from Odom would go a long way to easing the burden on Bryant, and his ankle. It would also likely push New Orleans to the brink. 

And that's why it's not yet panic time. If the choice is between expecting Odom to bounce back at home and crossing your fingers that Belinelli, Green and/or Jack show up on the road, you'd pick "Option A" every time. So it's not yet panic time, but there's no longer any margin for error or room for excuses.

Since: Oct 12, 2006
Posted on: April 27, 2011 12:14 am

Is this panic time for the Los Angeles Lakers?

If it were 3-1 there would be a sense of urgency, Lakers can win tonight and get to 3-2 and close it out in 6 on the road, otherwise it goes 7 and they can still win it at home. We all knew the West was deeper and tighter for the 8 playoff teams. One expects the Spurs or Lakers to get thru round 1 in 4-5 games, but historically the shocking deeper playoff upsets and runs have always been in the West. This season the Spurs look like the # 1 seed and best NBA record to get ousted in the 1st round. Injury and playing cold in a drought will get any favorite eliminated. Just me, but Lakers seem to match up better vs anyone in the East for the Finals other than the Heat. Spurs seem to be able to match the Heat, but who knows we may get a rematch of the Heats first title should the Mavs find a way to the Finals. The East next round is Bulls, Celtics, Heat and I think the Magic pull out the series win vs the Hawks. I'm still not convinced the Hawks can close it in Atlanta in game 6 ? I will give Atlanta credit though, I didn't have them winning 3 games in this matchup.Hawks getting blown out tonight like they did, they have 2 more games to blow, but why not get it done in Orlando ?

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: April 26, 2011 4:22 pm

Is this panic time for the Los Angeles Lakers?

I think it's just great for Chris Paul and the Hornets that they could get two wins in this series with the powerful Lakers.  But I'm afraid that's more than we should sanely have hope for.  I didn't think the Hornets could make even one game close in this series, much less pull out a win.  Unfortunately, I just can't see them getting another one.  This Lakers team is just too talented, too deep for them, and just about every other team in the NBA.  I think Paul will certainly give it hjs all, but it just won't be enough.  The Lakers clearly know what to do and heve way more than enough talent to get it done.  And now they undoubtedly have the attitude to make it a very high priority.  Not sure I would really like to be in the Hornets' shoes right now.  I can very easily see the Hornets getting blown out of the next two games.  But they've sure done a lot better than I ever imagined.  Congratulations to the Hornets for a strong performance.

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: April 26, 2011 3:16 pm

Is this panic time for the Los Angeles Lakers?

This series is still on track for the Lakers.  While many were expecting a sweep for the Lakers, the series is where it's supposed to be.  While the Hornets are grossly overmatched in terms of talent and depth in this series with L A, they are an NBA team.  And, as we've clearly seen, they have Chris Paul.  While anything is possble, it seems highly unlikely the Hornets can pull out another win in this series, even with Kobe Bryant dinged up.  But we all know, it will not be for a lack of effort on the Hornets' part.  The Lakers have clearly been given their wake up call, and they have more than enough talent and ability to respond in a big way.  They clearly have the coach capable of orchestrating the needed adjustments.  This has been a most entertaining series thus far, but I am wondering whether the series could really turn ugly for the Hornets now.  An enraged Laker team and coaching staff is not good news for the Hornets.  I will be very surprised to see this series go beyond two more games.  Yes, the Lakers are that good when they put their mind to it.  I think that time has arrived and we'll see the real Lakers show up now.  They are way too talented, and way too deep to let this nonsense continue.

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