Running Diary: Lakers-Hornets Game 2

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 20: Andrew Bynum #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots over Aaron Gray #34 and Carl Landry #24 of the New Orleans Hornets in the first quarter in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on April 20, 2011 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Needless to say, I’ve been waiting for this game since the clock showed zeros at the end of Game 1. The analysts and so-called experts say that Game 1 was just a Lakers’ slip-up and they fully expect LA to turn things around and take this series with relative ease. They give some kudos to the jaw-dropping effort given by Chris Paul, and then turn their focus back to the Lakers and Kobe and Pau. This game is a chance for N’awlins to garner some real respect from the basketball world. As a fan, I’m nervous but pumped. I know what this team is made of, and if I needed to win one win to save my life, I’d want CP3 running the show.  I trust him to put forth another dazzling performance and to have New Orleans competing for a full 48 minutes. The Hornets are playing with house-money right now, and it is fun to watch. Beat LA!

1st Quarter 12:00 – Lakers win the tip. They immediately try to post up Bynum, and the possession ends with Artest missing a shot underneath the basket. The paint is going to be crucial tonight. Oh yeah, and Reggie Miller is co-calling this game. Thank god Kevin Harlan is by his side.

1Q 11:29 – Landry knocks in a mid-range bucket to put the Hornets up 2-0. Very David West-esque.

1Q 10:44 – Broken-down PnR that CP3 deftly uses to get a floater in the lane. 4-0 NOLA.

1Q 10:12 – Okafor picks up his 2nd personal foul. Thankfully, Gray is available for tonight.

1Q 9:54 – Fisher knocks down a three. Man, he always picks it up during the postseason. 5-4 LA.

1Q  9:07 – CP3 heading to the line after being fouled by Kobe. Love seeing him be aggressive. 8-7 LA.

1Q 8:36 – Jump ball between Aaron Gray and Derek Fisher. I can’t even see Fisher he’s so small…ball gets tapped around and it’s Laker ball. Really?

1Q 8:25 – CP3 is guarding Artest on the strong-side block for some odd reason. Artest finishes at the basket. 9-8 LA.

1Q 6:55 – Poor lob-attempt from CP3 on the break leads to Ariza pulling it back out. Oof, that would have been exciting.

1Q 6:47 – Ariza hits a hesitation shot over Bynum. 12-11 NOLA.

1Q 6:23 – Refs call a travel on Kobe. He’s screaming “WHAT?!” in a high pitched, prepubescent voice. Gold.

1Q 5:50 – Great D from Landry against Pau Gasol. Forces him into taking a tough, tough fadeaway.

1Q 5:39 – Another expert use of the PnR from Chris Paul. This time Landry set a great screen and allowed Paul to get into the lane and make use of his dribbling skills. A floater from CP3 puts NOLA up 14-11.

Coming back from a break – Cheryl Miller millertarily forgets her last name.

1Q 4:55 – Fish is starting to play tight on CP3. Paul finds Landry on the baseline, and he dives to the rim for a dunk. 16-11 N’awlins.

1Q 3:40 – Los Angeles’ gameplan is to force Paul to pass the ball off of screens. Too bad, as CP3 swings it to Ariza who drives and dumps it off to Aaron Gray for the bucket. 20-11 NOLA.

1Q 3:26 – Artest nails a three to inject a spark back into this crowd. 20-14 NOLA.

1Q 3:06 – Ariza comes back and hits a jumper with Artest up in his grill! 22-14 NOLA.

1Q 2:34 – As Kevin Harlan points out, the Lakers are now using Artest on CP3. First Kobe, then Fisher, and now Ron-Ron.

Coming back from a break – Steve Blake is back. Chickenpox be damned.

1Q 2:20 – Kobe throws a pass to Lamar Odom from beyond the arc. Odom finishes the layup. 22-18 NOLA.

1Q 57.1 – Kobe gets hit on the arm in the lane by Aaron Gray. Knocks down one of two to make it 22-21 NOLA.

1Q 15.0 – Odom cans a mid-range jumpshot. He’s been great off the bench for the Lakers so far. The game is now tied at 23

End of 1Q - LA went on a 12-3 run to even the game up. Lenny Kravitz likey.

During the break – The Blake Griffin car dunk commercial again. I’ve never hated a commercial this much. Ever.

End of 1Q interview: Monty Williams – He says he was happy early, but he needs to talk to the refs about how the paint is being handled. Covers it up by saying that’s an excuse. Smooth, Monty.

2nd Quarter 11:28 – Matt Barnes puts it in the basket and LA regains the lead, 25-23.

2Q 10:47 – Odom scores on a fastbreak and the Hornets’ second unit is looking very, very shaky. 27-23 LA.

2Q 10:27 – Jack hits a jumper to help stop the bleeding. 27-25 LA.

2Q 10:06 – Aaron Gray and Willie Green (help) combine for some nice defense on Pau Gasol which results in a transition opportunity, but Jack blows the tough layup. Green than misses a jumper after knocking the ball away. Ugh. Missed opportunities.

2Q 9:50 – LA pushes it after the missed Green jumper and Barnes comes away with a transition bucket. 29-25 LA.

2Q 9:11 – Jack tries to push the ball after a LA miss, but his pass gets picked off.  Lot of turnovers for both teams right now, sloppy play.

2Q 8:34 – Jack knocks down another jumper, this one a little more difficult. The score is tied again, at 29.

2Q 7:53 – Pretty play in transition as Shannon Brown leaves it up there on the break for Matt Barnes, who finishes around the rim. 31-29 LA.

2Q 5:43 – Lakers are now feeding Bynum down low. He hits a shot and draws the foul on Okafor, his third. We won’t be seeing him for the rest of this half. 35-31 LA, after Bynum misses the free throw after a break.

2Q 5:20 – Landry makes two free throws and LA is now up 35-33. Also, I hate Reggie Miller. HATE.

2Q 4:12 – Kobe dumps a sweet no-look pass into Pau Gasol’s lap, who is subsequently fouled. Gasol knocks down both free throws, and it is now 39-33 LA.

2Q 3:51 – Gray had a good chance down low but shoved Gasol. His lack of skill is being exposed.

2Q 3:12 – Fisher lays it in on a fastbreak to push the Laker lead to 10. It is now 43-33. Monty calls time.

2Q 2:52 – Landry misses over Bynum. NOLA can’t buy a bucket, especially around the rim.

2Q 1:46 – Artest rejects a Landry attempt. Los Angeles is taking control of the low-post.

2Q 52.5 – Ariza scores from the top of the arc to provide temporary relief and make it 47-38 LA.

2Q 3.9 – TNT puts up a graphic with the second quarter stats for both teams. What stands out the most? The Lakers scored 18 points in the paint, compared to the Hornets’ measly 4.

2Q 0.0 – CP3 nails a three at the buzzer! The score going into halftime is now 47-41.

Thoughts at the half:

Obviously, the score isn’t what I want it to be right now. But, to be honest things could be a lot worse. The Lakers thoroughly outplayed New Orleans for the better part of that second quarter in large part due to Andrew Bynum getting hot. ‘Mek was didn’t play much in the first half because he picked up two quick fouls and a third in the second quarter. Hopefully he can have a foul-free second half and anchor New Orleans’ defense. The Hornets should be happy that they are only six points down, because the Staples Center was rocking and the Lakers weren’t missing. N’awlins has to get back to what got them ahead in the early part of the game – solid PnR offense and great low-post defense. It has been a chippy game so far, and it is easy to tell that both teams want this W badly. I’m going to fast forward through the halftime show, although I do enjoy EJ, Kenny, and Chuck.

During the fast-forwarding – I see some disturbing gymnastics.

3rd Quarter 11:33 – Landry turns it over and Artest is on the break. It takes him three tries, but the third time is the charm as he converts on a layup and LA leads 49-41. Great start to the second half.

3Q 11:04 – Chris Paul is simply genius. He bades Kobe into committing a horrible foul, and instead of a shot clock violation, CP3 is headed to the line for three free throws. Paul makes two, and the score is now 49-43 LA.

3Q 9:39 – Landry hits a jumper after the LA defense collapses on CP3 following a PnR. 51-45.

3Q 9:33 – Gasol sorta brushes Landry to the ground with his forearm on the way back. Landry may have overdone the fall, but there was definitely something from Gasol. Landry did give Bynum a look a few plays ago. This is something to keep an eye on.

3Q 8:34 – A Marco Belinelli offensive foul sends the ball the other way. Someone remind me as to why Chris Paul isn’t dominating the ball right now?

3Q 8:17 – Bynum is called for an offensive foul on the other end. Man, this game is getting physical and scrappy. You can see it on the players’ faces. I just hope that an ugly altercation isn’t the result.

3Q 6:56 – The Hornets are settling way too much. They are taking way too many jumpshots and, at this point, aren’t event making an effort to get into the lane. N’awlins needs to stop wasting possessions and run clean half-court sets.

3Q 6:18 – CP3 splits defenders after a PnR and gets fouled in the lane. Finally.

Coming back from a break – A shameless “Lopez Tonight” plug. Never watch that show.

3Q 6:18 – Paul makes one of two and LA is now leading by 5, 51-46.

3Q 5:43 – Ariza flies in for a putback layup and the foul! 51-49 LA.

3Q 4:37 – Artest inhales an offensive board and manages to absorb contact while scoring. His free throw makes it 57-49 LA.

3Q 3:53 – Landry gets called for a touch foul and that’s his fourth personal foul. ‘Mek also has four.

3Q 3:12 – Jason Smith taking a 17-ft jumper? That’s really the best the Hornets can muster?

3Q 3:03 – Odom scores in transition. He’s putting this Laker team on his back right now. It’s been him and Bynum all night. 10-0 run for LA, and it is now  61-49.

3Q 35.0 – Willie Green loses the handle on a fastbreak opportunity. There is no way the Hornets can win this game, or series, if they blow possessions like that.

3Q 0.0 – CP3 once again makes a three at the buzzer! LA is leading 63-56 entering the fourth.

Thoughts going into the fourth quarter:

I’m interested to see how Monty will handle the foul situation (Okafor, Landry) down the stretch. I’m inclined to believe that he will take risks and keep them on the floor for a longer period of time than a coach would do in this predicament.  I fully expect CP3 to take over in a similar fashion to the last game. This team is showing a lot of fight tonight, and I’m excited to see how that translates to the final quarter, Also, the way the Green Goblin, um, I mean Kevin Harlan, just exclaimed, “right between the eyes!” after CP3 hit that shot is going to haunt my dreams.

End of 3Q interview: Phil Jackson – Jackson says bluntly that Pau hasn’t been tough tonight, and he refers to this game as a “scrum”. Agreed, Phil.

4th Quarter 12:00 – Monty has both Okafor and Landry on the floor. Interesting.

4Q 10:58 – Jack gets Bynum in the air and is goes to the line. That is Bynum’s fourth personal foul.  Jack makes one of two free throws to cut the Laker lead to 6, 63-57.

4Q 10:36 – LA catches the Hornets on a switch, and Bynum finishes over the much smaller Landry. 65-57 LA.

4Q 9:45 – Odom strokes one over Landry to push the score to 67-59. He’s killing the Hornets tonight.

4Q 8:51 – Landry picks up his 5th foul after stupidly hooking Matt Barnes’ elbow. Frustrating.

4Q 8:30 – Shannon Brown hits from deep after his defender (Jack) double teamed Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza comes in with a late closeout. There is plenty of time left, but that one felt like a dagger. 72-59 LA.

4Q 7:49 – Matt Barnes with a flagrant foul on Ariza. He’s arguing it. Someone should punch him in the face. Ariza manages to miss both free throws. Sigh.

4Q 7:33 – Belinelli misses a three. That had a chance to be a 4 or 5-point trip down the court for the Hornets, but they come away with nothing.

4Q 7:04 – Okafor draws a foul on Bynum. That’s Bynum’s fifth, and it brings Pau Gasoft onto the court. Okafor misses both. That’s four consecutive missed free throws, for those of you keeping score at home.

4Q 6:45 – After a pair of Pau Gasol free throws, LA is now leading 74-59. Despair is starting to set in.

4Q 5:57 – ‘Mek gets fouled while scoring a layup. He’s heading to the line as we go to break. It’s 76-63 LA.

4Q 5:57 – Back from the commercials, and Okafor makes his free throw. 76-64 LA.

4Q 5:11 – Kobe fouls CP3 in almost the same exact situation as last time – not a lot of time left on the shot clock and from beyond the arc. Kobe gets T’ed up for arguing that the contact was made when CP3 kicked his legs out during the shot. CP3 makes 3 of 4 free throws to cut the Laker lead to 77-67.

4Q 4:22 – Kobe is fouled in transition by Okafor. That’s Okafor’s fifth, and Jack is visibly pissed. He feels this game slipping away…and so do I. 79-67 LA after Kobe’s free throws.

4Q 4:02 – Ariza goes at the rim, scores, and draws the foul. After his made free throw it is 79-70. He’s had a great game tonight and has shown the aggressiveness no one else on the Hornets has exhibited.

4Q 3:36 – Kobe goes baseline for a reverse dunk. His knees still allow him to do that? It’s 81-70 LA, and this one may be over, folks.

4Q 1:59 – After Ariza does a great job on a double team by knocking the ball out of Kobe’s hands and off his leg out of bounds, N’awlins can’t take advantage as Okafor misses inside.

4Q 1:17 – Two Ariza free throws make it 81-74 LA. Too little too late?

4Q 40.9 – An Artest three basically puts the cap on this game, as it is now 84-74 LA.

4Q 0.0 – After 40 seconds of fouls the clock hits those infamous zeros once again, but this time Los Angeles wins, 87-78.

Thoughts on the loss:

From a moral standpoint, the Hornets can’t be dejected by the loss tonight. LA was bound to play very hard and salvage one game on their homecourt before going to New Orleans. Obviously if a few bounces went our way tonight, I could be talking about something entirely different. But, the fact of the matter is the Hornets are going home on a low note. Maybe if there wasn’t as much settling and if a few personal fouls weren’t called, the outcome would have been different. Nevertheless, the series is now tied at one game apiece. For Friday night’s game, I anticipate fewer jumpers and more of what Trevor Ariza brought tonight. The Hornets didn’t match their valiant Game 1 effort, but there are still positives to take away from this game. To only lose by nine points after turning the ball over many times and taking unsightly shots is an accomplishment in and of itself. So long until Friday LA, we’ll see you At The Hive.

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