Quantcast 2011 NBA Western Conference Playoffs: Round One - Los Angeles vs New Orleans

 

2011 NBA Playoff Preview – Western Conference First Round

Western Conference First Round Game 1  - New Orleans 109, Los Angeles 100 – Hornets lead series, 1-0

 

This was not the result anyone in the professional basketball community was expecting, especially since it came just hours after the San Antonio Spurs fell at home to the Memphis Grizzlies. Just when you think you’ve seen it all in the world of pro basketball, something new happens. The top two seeds in the Western Conference are down a game after the first weekend of playoff action.

Strap in – the ride might be that wild in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

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The National Basketball Association is a league of point guards. A day after Chicago’s Derrick Rose willed his Bulls to a come-from-behind victory over Indiana, New Orleans floor maestro Chris Paul was arguably even more dynamic in defeating the heavily favored Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center. Paul’s mind-boggling stat line - 33 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds, and 4 steals - only tells part of the story. Down the stretch in L.A., it wasn’t Kobe Bryant but Paul who closed out a playoff victory. Paul’s eight consecutive points put the Lakers away and gave the Hornets their day in the sun.

 

 

It was a shocking result for a Laker squad that had dominated all four regular season meetings with New Orleans. With the Hornets missing their best scorer, David West, due to injury, the result was all but assumed. The tremendous height advantage of the Los Angeles front court of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum would be too much for New Orleans to handle – that was the pervasive, reasonable and entirely logical way to approach this series. Clearly, that’s why they play the game on a court and not a piece of paper or a statistics textbook. Kobe Bryant scored 34 points to lead L.A. in a losing effort. Gasol struggled all evening, shooting just 2-of-9 and, more noticeably, putting out very little effort in a shockingly desultory performance that had Kobe glowering at him for much of the afternoon.

It was a day of upsets in the Western Conference with both the one and two seeds falling in Game 1. According to Elias Sports, this is the first this has happened since the playoffs expanded to 16 in 1983. When Memphis beat San Antonio, at least the Spurs had the excuse of saying that star Manu Ginobili was out with an injury. The Lakers have no such fall-back explanation. This was a butt-kicking from a shorthanded New Orleans team whose backup center, Aaron Gray, torched Gasol for 14 points. The Lake Show has to dramatically increase its level of intensity. Otherwise, this series actually could get interesting before it’s all over.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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