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 2 - L.A. Lakers 87, New Orleans 78 – Series tied, 1-1

 

The Los Angeles Lakers weren’t pretty on Wednesday night at Staples Center, and while the City of Angels is a place that’s obsessed with glamour and beauty, the fans of the Purple and Gold will be happy enough to simply take a win and watch this suddenly intriguing series shift to New Orleans for the upcoming weekend.

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Yes, the Lakers did not thrill or excite their hometown crowd in Game 2 of the first round of the NBA postseason. However, the Lake Show did send its fan base home with a smile. The two-time defending champions bounced back from a disappointing Game 1 and evened this series at a game apiece. What makes this win all the more impressive for the Lakers is that for the second straight game, Pau Gasol didn’t show up. The Spaniard hit just 2 of 10 shots and scored only eight points. That stink-bomb performance from Gasol should have led to a close game, a game much too close for comfort in most precincts of Laker Land. However, because of other step-up efforts, this game wasn’t ever close down the stretch. The second seed in the West cruised to the finish line because its other big men were large and in charge.

On a night when Kobe Bryant focused on defense instead of offense, limiting New Orleans superstar Chris Paul to just 20 points after his 33-point explosion in Game 1, it was the Lakers’ tall trees who carried the scoring load. Andrew Bynum delivered 17 points and 11 rebounds to pick up the ineffective Gasol. Bynum’s brawn and energy near the rim carried the Lakers for most of the first 30 minutes in this game. Then, in the final 18 minutes, it was Lamar Odom who emerged from the shadows.

 

 

Odom, who was named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year earlier on Wednesday, promptly proceeded to validate that award by tossing in 16 points while snaring seven rebounds. Odom scored eight of those 16 points in the final one and a half quarters while also setting up teammates with assist passes. Odom was the man giving cohesion and structure to the Lakers’ halfcourt sets while Bryant kept Paul in check. Since New Orleans missed 12 of its 32 foul shots, the Hornets – plunged into a grinder of a game  - forfeited whatever chance they had of stealing yet another game in Los Angeles. It’s pretty safe to say that if the Hornets miss 12 more foul shots in a future game, they’re going to pay the same price they did on Wednesday. NBA champions typically make opponents pay for giving away points. That’s what the Lakers and their big men did to New Orleans in Game 2.

We’ll see if the seventh seed, at home in the Big Easy, can write a different narrative in Game 3 on Friday night.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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