Wednesday night Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers took game 2 from the New Orleans Hornets and salvaged
a split of the first two games of the series. After getting shredded by Chris Paul and the shorthanded
Hornets in game 1, the Lakers bounced back with a good overall effort led by the aggressive play of Andrew
Bynum, who led the team with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Even so, it was a competitive game until the
very end, with the Hornets pulling within 7 points with just three minutes left. With the final buzzer, the
city let out a collective sigh…the Lakers won and all was well again. But wait a second, wasn’t this series
supposed to be a cakewalk?
Before the series started, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that thought the 7-seed Hornets would
give them any kind of trouble, after all the Lakers were 4-0 against them in the regular season, but
then game 1 happened. The Lakers got the split, but now they have to go on the road with their home-
court advantage gone against a team that knows they can beat them. The question is, are the Lakers in
trouble? Perhaps not immediately, but their chances of making a deep playoff run are looking a whole
lot less certain.
Defense is the biggest concern. Chris Paul has looked absolutely unstoppable thus far in the series.
Derek Fisher was given the assignment of staying in front of the speedy point guard for the majority of
game 1, and failed miserably. CP3 went off with with 34 points and 14 assists. In game 2, Kobe Bryant
insisted on taking the duty himself, and while he did better than the older, slower Fisher, Paul still had
20 points and 9 dimes. So, the Lakers shuffled their defense and Paul had a solid but unspectacular
game. Why is this worrisome?
Chris Paul is an elite NBA point guard and stopping him is not easy, but he’s also the New Orleans
Hornets ONLY offensive weapon in this series. With their leading scorer David West injured, they are
completely one dimensional. Shut down Chris Paul, and you shut down the Hornets offense. So let’s
assume that the Lakers get their act together and win the series against New Orleans. What happens
down the line when they face a Russell Westbrook or a Derrick Rose, elite point guards in their own right
who actually have other scorers to pass the ball to?
This remains to be seen. And while they are the defending champs, this particular Lakers squad has
given the fans a reason to be anxious. Never before have any of the five Kobe-era championship teams
had losing streaks of 4 games or more in the regular season. This season, they’ve had two of those. But
never count ‘em out…we’ll just have to wait and see what kind of playoff magic Phil Jackson has up his