Lakers-Hornets Game 3: Lakers win 100-86
The Lakers might not completely be their confident, swaggering selves but they crept considerably closer to that in New Orleans on Friday night by beating the Hornets, 100-86, in Game 3 of their best-of-seven playoff series.
They’ve gone from looking slow and lacking in energy in Game 1 -- all those days ago -- to taking a playoff game on the road to move two wins away from finishing off this series, leading it two games to one.
Game 4 will be at New Orleans Arena on Sunday.
This one will largely be remembered for the return of Pau Gasol, who shot four of 19 from the field in the first two games. Gasol hit double digits for the first time in this series and had a big fourth quarter when the Lakers went on a 10-1 run, and he even hit a three-pointer for good measure, only his second of the year, to finish with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant, who took only 10 shots in Game 2, had game-high 30 points, going 10 for 20 from the field. It is the 80th time he has scored 30 or more points in a playoff game.
He was asked about taking only 10 shots on Wednesday night and said: “The last game it was about doing something else.”
The Lakers’ Andrew Bynum, who survived an injury scare early in the second half, had a second consecutive double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
And the Lakers' defense managed to keep Hornets point guard Chris Paul in check. Paul finished with 22 points but had a mere four in the second half. Carl Landry led the Hornets with 23 points, and former Laker Trevor Ariza had 12 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lakers went on a 10-1 run, which gave them a 14-point lead. And Pau Gasol was largely responsible, scoring seven of those 10 points.
Seems about time for the Hornets to get Chris Paul back in the game.
Lakers 75, Hornets 68 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers are one quarter away from taking a 2-1 lead against the New Orleans Hornets in the best-of-seven playoff series.
Positive sign for the Lakers: Pau Gasol is flickering and slowly coming back to life in this series. Gasol has 10 points through three quarters, the first time he has hit double digits in the playoffs.
Lakers 69, Hornets 63 (2:47 remaining third quarter)
Carl Landry’s big third quarter boosted the Hornets. His three-point play cut the Lakers' lead to eight and then his dunk with 3:04 left in the quarter pulled New Orleans to within six points.
He is four-of-four shooting from the field in the quarter for nine points. He has 14 points overall.
Lakers 57, Hornets 46 (9:54 left third quarter)
Andrew Bynum's importance was underscored when he stepped on Carl Landry's right foot and went down with 9:54 left in the quarter, wincing and holding his right knee. To say the Lakers looked concerned was an understatement.
Bynum stayed down for quite a while, forcing the Lakers to call a timeout and to have trainer Gary Vitti come out on the court while the rest of the team stood around Bynum. After a few minutes, Bynum was back on his feet and he remained in the game.
Lakers 51, Hornets 42 (halftime)
Somehow, the Hornets are lingering, not quite going away just yet.
This is despite the Lakers shooting 52% in the first half and dominating the paint, scoring 10 more points than the Hornets in that telling department and outrebounding the Hornets, 25-16.
Another telling point: Kobe Bryant has taken 11 shots, making six of them. He only took 10 shots in all of Game 2. Bryant has 15 points and Andrew Bynum has picked right up from Game 2, scoring 14 points in the first half of Game 3.
For the Hornets, Chris Paul has 18 points, three assists and three rebounds as well as four turnovers.
Lakers 38, Hornets 27 (8:09 left in second quarter)
The Lakers' second unit is in and continues to pound the ball inside and outhustle the Hornets.
Seven Lakers have now scored. And Andrew Bynum already has three offensive rebounds as the Lakers' size advantage is showing up in the rebounding stats. The Lakers have 17 boards to 10 for the Hornets.
Lakers 30, Hornets 23 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers have a lead at the end of the first quarter for the first time in this series.
Lamar Odom scored on a three-point play with four seconds left in the opening quarter to pad their lead.
Kobe Bryant came out looking to shoot and led the Lakers with 10 points, hitting four of six shots. He had only 11 points in Game 2.
The Lakers shot 68% percent in the quarter and Andrew Bynum was fed the ball down low and hit three of four shots; Bynum has six points. Every Laker starter scored in the quarter.
Meanwhile, the Hornets shot only 42% and stayed as close as they did thanks to Trevor Ariza and Chris Paul who combined for 17 points.
Lakers 16, Hornets 10 (6:31 left in first quarter)
It's a quicker paced game so far and the Lakers can't seem to miss. They are shooting 78% from the field and Ron Artest leads the Lakers' scoring with seven points.
Derek Fisher is guarding Chris Paul, freeing up Kobe Bryant on offense. Bryant has hit two of three shots for five points, but he's also turned over the ball three times.
Former Laker Trevor Ariza leads the Hornets with four points.
Game 3 shifts to the Hornets’ court and it’s a sellout — a rarity at the New Orleans Arena. Usually, hoop fans in New Orleans are restrained and don’t generate the ear-numbing roar common in Salt Lake, Portland or Boston. We’ll see if the Hornets crowd puts more energy into this one.
Here are some keys for Game 3:
--Pau Gasol is shooting a dismal four for 19 in the series, primarily because Hornets power forward Carl Landry (an undersized Kendrick Perkins type of player) has pushed Gasol farther away from the hoop than the Lakers All-Star likes. Gasol needs to fight for his post-up spots before getting the ball.
--Hornets center Emeka Okafor has mostly been a spectator because of foul trouble. Hornets Coach Monty Williams hinted he was unhappy with the calls that put Okafor on the bench early in Games 1 and 2; maybe that will change in New Orleans.
--The pace of play is also critical. In Game 1 guards Chris Paul and Jarrett Jack pushed the ball up court and the younger Hornets caught the Lakers in some spotty transition defense. However, in Game 2 the Lakers peeled off from their offensive end after a shot and slowed down the Hornets’ fast-break chances. It became a half-court game, which favors the Lakers, and the Hornets offense withered from 109 points in Game 1 to only 78 on Wednesday.
Betting site Beted.com favors the Lakers by 5 1/2 points in Game 3.
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant changes direction while driving against New Orleans forward Trevor Ariza in the first half of Game 3 on Friday night. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times