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 3 - L.A. Lakers 100, New Orleans 86 – Lakers lead series, 2-1

 

Now, this series is feeling the way it was supposed to feel from the outset. After an early hiccup, the team that has dominated the NBA each of the past two seasons is very much on course to move out of the first round and work its way toward a third consecutive NBA championship.

The defending champion Los Angeles Lakers dominated the first and fourth quarters on their way to a comfortable victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night. Having lost home-court advantage after a surprising upset loss in Game 1, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers were focused from the get-go at grabbing control of the series once again. With the score tied at 10 early in the opening frame, Los Angeles responded with a 15-6 run, capped by a Andrew Bynum dunk. The Hornets never led again, and sure enough, this 2-versus-7 series in the West now feels like the uneven matchup it always appeared to be. Order has been restored and equilibrium has been attained. The Lakers look like the Lakers again, and that’s bad news for everyone else in the Western Conference. Attentive on defense and effective on offense, the Lakers are quietly and undramatically dissecting the Hornets, reminding everyone in the professional basketball community how icily ruthless they really are.

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After an inefficient Game 2, Bryant was much more in control of his game in Game 3. Bryant scored 30 points, on an even 10-of-20 shooting performance. Four other Lakers scored in double figures on Friday. Two of those players, Bynum and frontcourt colleague Pau Gasol, had double-doubles. Gasol finally awakened from a two-game slumber to give Los Angeles the production it’s been waiting for.

With the Hornets crawled within five points on two Carl Landry free throws with 11:15 left in the final stanza, the Lakers took the life out of the surging underdog from the Bayou. A 12-3 burst put Los Angeles up 87-73 with 6:33 to go. The Lakers never looked back.

 

 

After a heroic Game 1 performance in Los Angeles last Sunday, New Orleans guard Chris Paul struggled through an uneven outing on Friday. Paul scored 22 points, but had five costly turnovers and wasn’t the difference maker in the second half that he had been on the West Coast. Landry was the star of the night for New Orleans, scoring 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting. New Orleans shot just 2-of-13 from three-point range and was unable to get an offensive rhythm going in the second half.

 

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By: Matt Zemek
Pro Basketball Fans Staff Writer


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