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Dissecting the final moments of the Lakers' 93-88 Game 4 loss to New Orleans


Overlook Kobe Bryant's scoreless first-half performance. Forget about Chris Paul's triple-double effort. And accept the Lakers' nearly three-quarter stretch in which they didn't grab an offensive rebound.

There's plenty of blame to go around for the Lakers' 93-88 Game 4 loss to the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday, forcing the Lakers to return to New Orleans for Game 6 Thursday and adding further stress to a series they should have controlled.

The Lakers could have secured an ugly win if not for numerous lapses in the final 3:30. There were certainly some key plays in those final minutes that went the Lakers' way, but too many of them were executed the wrong way. Below is a play-by-play account of what went wrong in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

3:23-2:57. After Derek Fisher hit two free throws to cut the deficit to 83-79, the Hornets' Paul hoped to take advantage of his superior quickness on Fisher in the next possession. But it didn't happen. Hornets center Emeka Okafor tried setting a high pick on Fisher, with Pau Gasol ready to switch on Paul. But Fisher fought through the screen and immediately marked on Paul. Okafor set a screen again at the top of the key, but Fisher spun around the screen and stayed in front of Paul. Once Paul dribbled right, Fisher cut off his penetration and then quickly backed so he wouldn't get beat off the dribble. After Paul dribbled to his left and between the legs, Fisher swiped at the ball. Paul picked up the loose ball, but he had to settle for an off-balance three-pointer that hit off the backboard.

2:56-2:44: Lakers forward Ron Artest grabbed the rebound off Paul's miss and immediately gave the ball to Kobe Bryant, who drove into the lane but then met resistance from Okafor, prompting Bryant to throw a jump pass out to Artest at the top of the key. With no one marking him, Artest attempted a game-tying three-pointer, but the shot missed off the back rim. Lakers forward Lamar Odom grabbed the rebound, but Hornets guard Jarrett Jack immediately swiped the ball away from him. Odom wrapped him up, but New Orleans called a timeout.

2:43-2:29: The Hornets ran a high screen-and-roll with Okafor setting a pick on Fisher. Bynum initially switched on Paul, but as soon as Fisher caught up on the nearside perimeter, Bynum cut across the lane to guard Okafor. Paul found Marco Belinelli cutting toward the free-throw line and breezed past Artest after catching the pass. But Gasol immediately blocked Belinelli's shot in the paint, and the ball deflected off him before going out of bounds.

2:28-2:02: Lakers center Andrew Bynum set a pick on Trevor Ariza at the top of the key, allowing Bryant some space to drive right. Ariza immediately caught up and shut off Bryant's driving lane, so he passed to Fisher on the far side. He instantly fed an entry pass to Gasol on the far post and then cut to the corner perimeter. Gasol immediately passed the ball back to Fisher, who fired a jumper that hit off the back rim. Artest grabbed the rebound and had an open look for a putback despite the high traffic in the lane. But he kicked the ball out to Bryant, who pump-faked at Carl Landry and then pulled up for a 26-footer that hit off the front rim. The shot appeared rushed without the lift Bryant usually has on his clutch shots. Gasol fought for the rebound, but Paul grabbed the loose ball and drew the foul.

611258352:02-1:53: After Paul's free throws gave the Hornets an 85-80 advantage, Fisher manned the point. Bryant set a high screen on Paul for Fisher and then rolled out the perimeter. Meanwhile, Fisher drove the lane past Ariza and hit a high-arching left-handed layup, cutting the Hornets lead to 85-82.

1:53-1:31: Landry set a screen on Fisher, but immediately backed off after he fought through it. Hornets guard Willie Green cut up toward the top of the key to pick up a pass from Paul and Bryant immediately guarded him. Once Green drove left, Bryant caught up to him but then turned his left ankle before fouling him. Bryant limped while attempting to walk it off, prompting Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to take him out in favor of Shannon Brown. Bryant initially shook his head, indicating he didn't want to sit out, but Jackson implored him to come to the bench. He could been seen on the telecast telling Bryant to "sit down," and Lakers trainer Gary Vitti looked Bryant over. After Green made one of two free throws to extend the Hornets' cushion to 86-82, the Lakers call a timeout.

1:31-1:12: Bryant returned to the floor after the timeout, but immediately became frustrated. The feeling had nothing to do with the pain in his left ankle, however. Odom brought the ball up the floor and passed to Artest at the top of the key. Odom then got the ball back, prompting Bryant to cut across the lane and then out to the near-side perimeter. Once he caught the ball, Bryant went into triple-threat position against Ariza, drove left and threw a perfectly placed jump pass to Gasol. Despite anticipating the pass with his arms up high, Gasol dropped the ball and Paul picked it up. Bryant glared at Gasol for the mistake, something that visibly bothered Gasol as well. Paul was immediately fouled and hit the two free throws to widen the gap to 88-82.

1:12-1:01: Gasol immediately redeemed himself. After Odom threw him a pass on the far end, Gasol drove into the lane, stopped, pivoted left, hit a pull-up jumper and drew a foul on Landry. His jumper cut New Orleans' lead to 88-84, but he couldn't close the deficit any more. After Gasol's missed free throw hit the back rim, he grabbed the rebound and threw the ball up top to Fisher. After Fisher threw it back into Gasol on the far post, Gasol squared up on Landry, cut left into the lane and then missed a pull-up jumper. Paul initially grabbed the rebound, but Odom knocked the ball away and forced a jump ball.

Bryant stood frustrated on the sideline because he sat out in favor of Brown, assuming that Gasol would make the free throw and that the Lakers could depend more on Brown on defense, given Bryant's limitations with his ankle. The sequence could have allowed Bryant to have another chance at closing the deficit had he been in the game.

1:01-:45: Odom tipped the ball out to the far perimeter, where Bryant planned to cut. But Ariza beat Bryant to the ball and sprinted downcourt. At the time line, Ariza threw a pass to Green, who was immediately met by Artest contesting his shot. Ariza attempted the putback, but it was ruled offensive goaltending. 

:39-:33.6: Odom drove into the lane with ease and precision and drew a foul on Landry off his left-handed layup attempt. Odom's two free throws sliced the Hornets' lead to 88-86. 


:33.6-:09.3: Another screen-and-roll from Ariza on Fisher resulted in him and Bryant switching. Bryant forced Paul left, and Bryant and Gasol immediately met Paul with a double team. It appeared that Gasol was about to block Paul's shot, but at the last second, Paul threw a jump pass to Jack, whose seven-footer dropped in and extended the Hornets' lead to 90-86.

:09.3-:07.2: With Fisher throwing the inbounds pass, Bynum set a down screen for Bryant on Ariza, prompting Bryant to flash up to the top of the key. Meanwhile, Gasol cut right into the paint, with Aaron Gray offering little resistance. Gasol caught the inbounds pass and immediately dunked the ball, reducing the gap to 90-88 with 8.2 seconds remaining. Once Jack received the ball, Artest immediately fouled him. Jack made both free throws to give the Hornets a 92-88 edge with 7.2 seconds left.

:07.2-:00: On the inbounds pass, Bynum set a down screen for Bryant on Ariza, giving Bryant enough room to cut to the top of the key. Once he received a pass from Fisher, Bryant squared up and hoisted a 26-foot three-point attempt that hit back iron. Jack grabbed the rebound, Fisher fouled him and Jack hit one of two free throws, securing the Hornets' victory. 

-- Mark Medina

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Upper photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant has his shot blocked by New Orleans point guard Chris Paul, who was called for a foul on the play, during Game 4 on Sunday night. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Middle photo: The Hornets' Chris Paul looks to pass after running into the double-team defense of Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo: Paul is forced to pass by the defense of Kobe Bryant and Gasol in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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Police here; listening to Cowherd this morning and he made LOTS of valid points. The way the Rockets played against us 2 years ago was the exception not the rule ( no bench is going to shoot 3 pt shots at a 50% clip over a playoff series). In this series however, CP3 will continually be a problem for our PGs and Landry will be a thorn in the side of Gasol and LO; not the exception but the rule.

But wait a minute, the PSP is getting ahead of the PSP. It's practice playoff season, nothing to worry about; if we lose we still going to round 2!!

PSP Officer

>>> In this series however, CP3 will continually be a problem for our PGs

Sound familiar?

Last year about this time, The Lakers were tied 2-2 with Oklahoma City and unbelievers were saying the same sort of things about Russell Westbrook.

Expect the Lakers to hand New Orleans a stomping on Tuesday and a closeout on Thursday.

1) Why was the bench in for so long at the beginning of the fourth? That was the perfect time to win the game and starters should have been in to do so.

2) Lamar's inconsistent post-season play is back; I can never understand it-he should control the second unit, but he never seems to

3) Matt Barnes didn't show up yesterday at all-much like Game 1; while many hyped him up all season, I always worried abt his inconsistent play esp in the post season (look at Orlando last season) and post-surgery he hasn't been the same

4) Offensive Rebounds-or the lack there of by the Lakers-you can have all that height and not use it; painful to watch

5) Spilt Shannon's time with Trey. Unfortunately Shannon is a better player when he has competition-his play when Trey was there the first 2 games and before the Sasha trade. Unlike many on the thread I am not going to bash Brown-his amount of raw talent is crazy, he lacks the proper court knowledge (something to be worked on during offseason) in this case I rather not see him learn on the court in the postseason-so limit his minutes and use him when he is being productive.

6) Lack of PG- Trey Johnson isn't the answer, Fish is older, and Blake wasn't the best move in the off season. While much of the league has gotten younger and faster, the Lakers have not. I think the Lakers can make it work for the rest of the season, but will be addressed in the off season.

7) I still think the Lakers will when this series and will go on and win the ring. However, they are making it much harder on themselves and the fans in the process.


Yeah we probably still win the series, but we should not be going 6 games with a team that consists of Chris Paul and his merry men.

Btw saying that Chris Paul has been having fried Fish for lunch maketh me not an unbeliever. Fact is that our play for the past month or so has been dismal and if we keep playing this way there will be no parade this year. The PSP says as the PSP sees, and that's the bottom line cuz PSP said so!

PSP Intern

Solve the P/R, win the series.


Steve P,

Excellent post. I was thinking the same thing.

But I kind of expected another letdown yesterday. These Lakers come out to play only when they absolutely have to. When they don't absolutely have to win, they seem to play down to the level of the competition. It's frustrating, and at some point this attitude is going to come to haunt them.

Kenny Smith made a good point the other night. A championship team KNOWS that they can and will win. When the Rockets won their 2 championships, that team KNEW that they could beat anyone that they played. Even when they were down 3-1 to the Suns and Charles Barkley, or down by 23 points in a game, Kenny explained to Barkley and Chris Webber how his team had that mentality that they were not going to lose. In other words, as Rudy T coined, they had the "heart of a champion".

The Lakers have the heart of a champion. They might not have the brains of a champion, but the heart is there. When the chips are down, I believe in this team.

Go Lakers!

Derrick Caracter arrested for battery.

film at 11

Had Odom made it to the Allstar game, we'de be seeing alot more of his famous dissapearing acts during the 17-1 run. When was it announced that he won the 6th man awrd? Hmmm......full tummy?

For hitting a pregnant woman .... :(

LA's played a *lot* of games since 2007.

Not including preseason games, they will have played their 400th game tomorrow night. Only the C's have played such a volume of games in under 4 years.

That's a lot of games, requiring a lot of focus.

This is a series filled with awkward matchups, and one clear mismatch, at the PG position. LA simply doesn't have an answer there, and it's taken two of the best statistical performances of the entire season to date to even this series 4 games in. LA's bench weakness is also showing.

This series IS the Finals for the Hornets. The question the rest of the playoffs is whether LA has enough in the tank to focus and execute. The answer is pretty shaky at this point, but the Lakers probably have at least a few more punches left before it's all said and done.

This is the price to pay for back-to-back titles. But a threepeat could be the ultimate payoff. We'll see if it happens. Have faith.

the arrogance of the lakers just kills me

So much for the nails in the's now a 3 game series with 2 at Staples...GO LAKERS

If playoffs ended today here's how yellofever would hand out the awards:

Cris paul- practice playoffs 2011 MVP
Monty williams- practice playoffs coach of the year
Carl landry- practice playoffs most improved player of the year
Jarrett jack- practice playoffs 6th man of the year

Can't be too hard on the Lakers. I mean every single team they play is always loaded with allstars. The Hornets have CP3, C Landry, Ariza, Jack and A Grey.

"But wait a minute, the PSP is getting ahead of the PSP. It's practice playoff season, nothing to worry about; if we lose we still going to round 2!!

PSP Officer

Posted by: Practice Season Police | April 25, 2011 at 08:02 AM "

LOL! The practice season and switch flip theories are taking a serious beating in these playoffs.

Dudes & Dudettes:
Of course this series was supposed to be a sweep but we're talking about The Lakers. It was evident the way they ended the season that the playoffs would not be easy for them.

Personally, I was in for the sweep but after watching them lose the opener, I just knew this was going to be a 6 game series. No, I'm not a genius, just an objective Lakers fan.

We can "dissect" this all we want. They will get out of this round and then they'll have to be re-evaluated in the opener of the next one.

I would still prefer Dallas over Portland because the team has a better chance of winning against opponents who are just as “old” as they are. These "young guns" are quite dangerous for this and any other team: just look at S.A. and Dallas.


">>> In this series however, CP3 will continually be a problem for our PGs

Sound familiar?

Last year about this time, The Lakers were tied 2-2 with Oklahoma City and unbelievers were saying the same sort of things about Russell Westbrook.

Expect the Lakers to hand New Orleans a stomping on Tuesday and a closeout on Thursday.

Posted by: LongTimeLakerFan | April 25, 2011 at 08:14 AM "

I expect the Lakers to win this series but I don't know if they have another option for Chris Paul like they did for Westbrook last year. Last year, they waited until game 5 to make a real adjustment on that awful Westbrook/Fisher matchup and put Kobe on him to stay at home and clog the lane and force Westbrook to shoot from outside. This year they have been making adjustments since game 1 and have already tried anyone and everyone on Chris Paul and nothing has worked. I think all they can do now is let Chris get his and make sure no one else has a big game. Even before the twisted ankle, guarding Chris Paul took a serious toll on Kobe's offense. I think Phil is right to stay away from giving him that task fulltime.

The bench lost this one for us.

Shannon is seriously starting to piss me off! How hard is it to pass into the post?! His shot has been missing since December and he needs to realize that our strength is on the inside, not 25 foot rainbow jumpers!!!

Please give Trey a shot!!!!! His basketball I.Q. seems much higher that anyone currently on our bench not named Steve Blake.

I'm turning into a pirate!

My first selection of the day:

To borrow T.J. Simmers column today "If the Lakers can't stop Trevor Ariza, a beaten-up Chris Paul and a cast of nobodies, how do they stop Miami's Big Three, Boston's Fearsome Foursome, or Oklahoma City's Energetic Five?"
It's really mind-boggling that they swept the Hornets with David West in the regular season and now tied 2-2 in the play-offs without him replaced by journeymen Ariza & Landry. The Laker fans said this over and over again that the Lakers is just bored in the regular season that's why their play is so pathetic, just wait for the play-off. It's play-off time and we're seeing the same pathetic play. As the play-off goes deeper and deeper the more I believe that this team does'nt have it anymore to three-peat. I hope I am wrong.

The Lakers need to stop switching on Paul. Whatever happened to their defensive scheme in funneling drivers to the lane so that Bynum and Gasol can simply block it?

Has anyone seen Pau Gasol?

DJ Mbenga is even making him look bad.

What's the point of "dissecting" the final minutes of the game, when the Lakers lost the game in the first minutes of the third quarter.
What defensive scheme?
More like what good old Jack Haley used to call the Helter Skelter defense. Jackson might be remembered for his multiple championships and the triangle offense, but defensive schemes?
Having Gasol and Bynum defending point guards at the 3-point line is exactly what Jackson's man defense scheme is about. And it's soft and it makes no sense.
However, for his fortune, Jackson has had Mike, Shaq, and Kobe to bail him out.
And the way Kobe has played this season, it looks like Jackson's fortune might have already run out.

By beaten La by just 5 points thats not really bad on your home court,this game will just serve as a spring board for the Lakers to beat up on the Hornets in the next 2 games,we have to remember that Phil Jackson and his coaching staff been through such a situation before,in one nba finals against the New York Knickers,the Knicks won 2 games against the Michael Jordan Bulls and was still defeated,so this situation is not new to PHILL JACKSON,CLEAMON AND HAMBLEN.

@ninja: How exactly did the Bulls play the Knicks in the finals when both teams are in the Eastern Conference?

@Fan0615: The 2nd unit played long minutes in the 4th quarter because the starters played the entire 3rd quarter. Normally, PJ brings in the 2nd unit around the 8:00 mark of Q3, but this time, he uncharacteristically, did not sub until the start of Q4. He clearly wanted to exploit a size advantage against the Hornet's second unit but it backfired because the Hornets negated the size advantage with speed.



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