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Lakers show improvement with their inside presence against New Orleans

61174109After converting on a right hook, Lakers forward Pau Gasol pumped his fist. After converting on an inside lob, Lakers center Andrew Bynum flexed his muscles. And after the Hornets surprisingly owned the advantage inside for most of the series, both Gasol and Bynum finally fought back with increased aggressiveness.

The Lakers' 106-90 Game 5 victory Tuesday over the New Orleans Hornets assuaged concerns for reasons besides retaking control of the series and Kobe Bryant still managing to play through pain with a sprained left ankle. It took four games longer than it should have, but Game 5 also featured the Lakers finally showcasing their superior size advantage against the Hornets in a physical nature, a quality not usually attached to the defending champions.

"We should play like that all the time," Gasol said after posting 16 points on six-of-12 shooting, eight rebounds and three blocks. "[Game 5] was a game we needed to play physical, control the boards and use our bodies."

The increased aggressiveness helped the Lakers secure the victory in so many ways. First things first, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson argued the team's 22-2 advantage in second-chance points proved to be the main variable that gave the Lakers a 3-2 series lead and a chance to close out the series Thursday in Game 6 at New Orleans. But there were plenty of other factors that helped the Lakers' cause. The Lakers outrebounded the Hornets 42-25, caused Emeka Okafor to get five fouls and Gasol, Bynum and Lamar Odom combined for 51 points.

Suddenly, Hornets Coach Monty Williams changed course from criticizing the Lakers' front line in staying in the lane too long to them playing too dirty.  

"There was more focus to be physical tonight and I know you guys saw it," Williams said after Game 5. "A lot of it, it's just not basketball. So, it's just one of those things we have to recognize and withstand and kind of play and overcome it."

Of course, this is all part of the gamesmanship that exists in most playoff series, with Lakers Coach Phil Jackson also accusing the Hornets of throwing illegal screens. It's not so much important as who's right and who's wrong because both coaches have points, but it's a good thing for the Lakers that Williams is griping about them playing too physical than praising his own frontline in Carl Landry, Emeka Okafor and Aaron Gray for overcoming the absence of David West (season-ending anterior cruciate ligament injury), beating the Lakers in points in the paint, rebounds and second-chance points and proving their four regular-season losses didn't have a psychological affect during the playoffs.

The disparity between the regular-season matchups against the New Orleans and the playoffs are at least head scratching and at most embarrassing between Gasol (22.2 points on 70.5% shooting and 12.8 rebounds, 13.1 points on 41.8% shooting and 6.6 rebounds) and Odom (14.5 points on 55.6% shooting and seven rebounds, 11.6 points on 44.4% shooting and 5.6 rebounds). Though Bynum statistically has proven better in the playoff series (15 points on 64.1% shooting and 10 rebounds) than in the regular-season games against New Orleans (14.6 points on 54% shooting and 6.8 rebounds), Bynum lacked the defensive presence that proved instrumental during the Lakers' 17-1 start following the All-Star break. 

That was a different story, however, in Game 5.

"For me, personally, defensively we did a better job, said Bynum, who also contributed 18 points on six-of-11 shooting and 10 rebounds. "We were handling pick and rolls and not giving up on the play."

After ignoring the scouting report from Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons that stressed preventing Landry from driving, Gasol held him to eight points on three of seven shooting. After ignoring pleas that the Lakers needed to avoid switching on Hornets guard Chris Paul and simply funnel him, the team's frontline helped its backcourt holding Paul to four assists in the final three quarters after his eight first-quarter assists tied a Lakers playoff record for an opponent in any quarter. And it all came with more bumps, elbows and bruises than they're accustomed to throwing. But that's a good thing.

"It's pretty interesting because we're not known for that," Jackson said. "We're known to be soft. But sometimes desperation can get teams activated.

--Mark Medina

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Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum goes up for an offensive rebound in front of teammate Pau Gasol as well as Hornets power forward Carl Landry and guard Marco Belinelli in the first half of Game 5 on Tuesday night at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij, Los Angeles Times / April 26, 2011

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Are you serious Monty?

You're talking about the Lakers doing stuff on the court that's "not basketball?" And what about your own team? Have you even seen Carl Landry and Aaron Grey (sp) play? Take a good long look in the mirror and then open your mouth next time.


Let's call it childs play to start! Ok the lakers are like the expiernced fathers and the hornets are like children trying to prove to dad that they are just as good. Key word here is EXPIERENCE! You know how a dad will rough house with his young son but not so much to hurt him? That's what the expierenced lakers (dads) have been doing with the hornets (children) game 5 the lakers came out and played basketball like a father letting his son know he was still the more expierenced one. Game six the lakers need to come out and spank the young hornets like they took dads car out for a joy ride without permission and got into an accident. Spank the hornets so hard to remind them never to try that again. The lakers went 4-0 in regular season with these guys yet they are in a 3-2 playoff now. Ok let's say injuries were reason to why the hornets couldn't beat the lakers early on and they are healthier now. Well don't cry about injuries when your a youthful team and the lakers are old and beat up! The reason why the lakers will win this round is because they are older, because they are expierenced, frankly because they have been here before. Remember the 1st round with okc last year?

This team is old.
Asia loves Boston Celtics.

The game is won and lost inside. We need to keep making a concerted effort to get the ball inside to Bynum and Gasol, but also Kobe, and Ron. There are mismatches everywhere! On another note, I really cannot wait to see MIA and BOS. I hate BOS, but I just think that they will plow through the MIA Hype Machine. My pick is BOS in 5. Yep, in 5! I am also gonna call an early Finals (barring injuries), Bulls and Lakers. PJ will ironically beat the team that he started with, and LA will get revenge for '91!

Moderation sucks, but at least the majority of trolls are gone. Glad to know that Sonny is banned. What's good for the blog is not necessarily good for the poster.

"There was more focus to be physical tonight and I know you guys saw it," Williams said after Game 5. "A lot of it, it's just not basketball. So, it's just one of those things we have to recognize and withstand and kind of play and overcome it."

What Monty? "A lot" of it, is just not basketball??? Maybe you should consider playing chess or scrabble or something.

This is PLAYOFFS BASKETBALL, everybody is physical. It's WIN or GO HOME!

With that Monty, here's something for you From Ms. Olivia Newton- John.......



GAME DAY!!!!!!!!!

Close them out, Lakeshow! Let's do this, and let's do this NOW!!!!!!


Monty Williams already complained to the league after game 3 loss. He now gripes with the press. What's next? The supreme court?

The Hornets swore to a man it was a trick.

"Did you see him limp one time?" Chris Paul said.

Actually, someone said, he looked limited at first.

"What game were you watching?" Paul said.


Interesting comment from Phil:

"Michael was used to coaching, and used to coaching that he trusted, so a lot of times, in conferring with him, he could execute what the game plan was."

yes very proud of the laker proformance especialy Gasol ,Odom and Fisher , i hope i see the same on the road, tonight. defence was best all year balance scoring a complete game no more taking plays off on defence ,and phil jackson showed some trust in shannon brown, Steve blake well he just Steve blake the next laker, to wake up out of this funk the team will need his three point ability if and when L.A. get to the next seriese.a complete game very ,very proud

good ,I give my vote to Lakers

tick tock clock ... testing testing .. are we still on moderation?

I guess so; man has the quality of this blog deteriorated or what? And it ain't just because of the trolls .....

PSP Intern

Wake up medina!! its time to approve some comments!

i think okafur should get more credit for helping stella get her groove back

Is this team poised on style or substance? The Lakers have not shown a desire to three peat and the players have not stepped their games up to a consistent level where champions play. Gasol has to improve and Phil Jackson's trade for Joe Smith so can he still play at this level or is he there for style. The bench is there any one after Lamar Odom or is there the mighty six cnly.Please wake up OKC is waiting and ready to beat the hell out of this team or NOH will.

It is game day baby! We got this!

Dallas/Portland could go seven. We have to end it tonight. Kobe needs to rest his ankle so we can kick some ass in round 2. It will be a physical game. NO plays well on their home court. They will come out blazing. We have to dominate the paint. PJ hit it on the head – whoever gets to the loose balls first will win it.

They will be backing of Kobe - afraid to wind up on Sports Center. He will have room to shoot. He is one of the few players in the league with a deadly mid-range game. He just needs to make sure and get it to the “Bigs” first. They will find him or have an easy shot themselves. Kobe has been brilliant lately at knowing when to facilitate and when to strike.

I hope Pau is feeling better because he needs to bring it tonight. It’s Black Swan time! When he has his head in the game, he communicates on court and the defense run smoothly. He is a smart player. We need his brains as well as his brawn.

Without D-Fish's effort the other night against Paul, we could be facing elimination tonight. He knows what he has to do. He has to get his brother some rest.

This win will be about defense and Ron was brought to the team (and Ariza was sent packing) because of his defensive prowess - to give Kobe a break from having to guard the all star on the other team. I think Ron will make a statement about that trade tonight.

Drew had a good game on Tuesday. He needs to keep it up. Defense wins championships. If he keeps playing the kind of D we know he is capable of, tonight will not be a problem. He was playing ferocious defense during the 17-1 run - blocking 4 or 5 shots a night and leading the team in rebounds. The other team’s players were afraid to go anywhere near him. He stepped it up in the last game. We need that again. We need it badly. We need The Beast.

Lamar and the Killer B’s were huge in the win. They have been inconsistent - especially on the road. Lamar, the B's and Pau or Drew should be able to beat most starting line-ups in the NBA - certainly a number seven seed. Kobe needs to rest his ankle. If the bench comes up big, Kobe gets rest. If Kobe gets beat up in a brutal game seven, it could mean the end of our hopes. Once again, Lamar is the X factor. Tonight, the Killer B's are there with him.

I think we have to take it to them early and get the crowd out of it. Kobe has been facilitating early the last few games, but he may need to put on a show right out of the gate in this one. It will not only take the crowd out of it, it will rip the heart out of the other team’s chest. They will know that it is over.

Of course, they are going to try to do the same thing to us… ;-) It is all or nothing for them. Win or go fishing!

I love the playoffs… ;-)

I am a Lakerholic.


April 27, 2011 at 11:12 PM

This is the last post? I typing this at April 28. 2011 8:15 AM...

Maybe you do need an assistant MM...

I guess I would rather scroll past the Trolls then have one post on here for hours...

I'm just sayin'...

MM - I know it must be tough and I wouldn't want your job... Wait a second, yes I would! ;-)

here's an interesting hypothetical:

what if pau gasol was born a decade earlier and had to play against those nasty knicks and pistons teams? how good would he be in that era? remember there was no WNBA league then. (sorry that was a joke)

(well actually if that was the case hes prob not in the league cause NBA went global after the dream team but just play along please)


Where are you getting your Reb stats for Bynum, "6.8 rebounds." He's averaging 10 Rebs a game this series. That's a pretty big difference. Though Pau has been MIA on the glass, Drew's been pretty consistent.

Keep that Devil way down in the hole:



Why the hell would the NBA put a Laker game on at 5:00 p.m. local time?

Why, why, why?

This makes no sense whatsoever. The west coast games are supposed to be LATER. Everyone is still working or getting out of work at 5:00 on a Thursday! I myself won't leave work until 6:00, so I'll only get to watch the 4th quarter on live TV.

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid !

Somebody tell me - Why is the NBA so Stupid ????

Posted by: Rob in L.A. | April 27, 2011 at 10:23 PM

Good thinkg I read this, I wouldn't have had a chance to have Mrs. NBA4ever set the DVR and I would of been one unhappy camper. Thank God for DVR or I might have got sick today and had to work from home.

Close out game day baby...GO LAKERS and then get some rest for the next series! Pound it inside until they puke!

Why the hell would the NBA put a Laker game on at 5:00 p.m. local time?
Posted by: Rob in L.A.

Don't know for sure, maybe so people on the east coast can finally watch a Lakers game without having to stay up until 1-2 AM.


here's an interesting hypothetical:

what if pau gasol was born a decade earlier and had to play against those nasty knicks and pistons teams? how good would he be in that era? remember there was no WNBA league then. (sorry that was a joke)

(well actually if that was the case hes prob not in the league cause NBA went global after the dream team but just play along please)

Posted by: yellofever | April 28, 2011 at 08:19 AM

Pau Gasol would have been an excellent player in any era. Period. Few 7 footers have the ability to face up or play with his back to the basket like him, use either hand like him, have his passing ability, agility or IQ. Also, when I watch games from that era, I don't see the bigs as being any more physical than today other then the "hard fouls."

The bigs today seem to get away with just as much, if not more, physical play than in that overrated, diluted decade, when 6 expansion teams joined the fray. Players like David Robinson and Patrick Ewing were "soft" by today's standards. Pau could hold his own against either one of them and would have been just as tough a match up against the power forwards of the day as he is now. How soon we forget how he dominated Kevin Garnett in Game 7 last year and how he ate up Dwight Howard in Game 5 in 2009. As long as he can play the "Robin" role, Pau Gasol is a champion. His career numbers are consistent and I am surprised that Lakers fans have a dim view of him and call him "soft" after what he has brought us the past three seasons.

Pau Gasol is one of the most UNDERRATED players of all-time, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a "homer. " He has been a star in the NBA and on the world stage, and nobody will ever convince me that the '90's produced better players and better teams than today. Yes, there may have been a more concentrated group of all-stars, but with the influx of Euro's the enormous amount of depth and the point guard and wing positions, and the underrated bigs in today's NBA, look at the Western Conference alone and compare it to the Swiss Cheese the Bulls sliced through in the diluted mid to late 90's. To suggest that Gasol would not have competed well against players in that era is, to me, farcical. But that's me.

I have to say that the moderation should not only include standards of conduct but also such basics as grammar, punctuation, and syntax. I recognize that this forum is not going to produce any Pulitzer prizes, but by the same token I am absolutely appalled by the troglodytic writing (if one can call it that) of the posters here. The "dumbing down" of American education is all too-evident here, judging by the caliber of the comments I've been reading.

Substantively, I have to say that the Lakers' play during this series shows a tremendous inconsistency, and reflects a larger pattern of half-hearted efforts followed by bursts of genuine exertion. A game-to-game consistency of effort is, perhaps, the most urgently required commodity on the part of the Lakers; talent is not a problem, nor is coaching, but energy is. Actually, skillful application of energy is what is most needed. With it, I predict the Lakers will go to the Finals, where they will most likely meet the Chicago Bulls. I predict a seven-game Finals series, with the Lakers topping Coach Jackson's old team. I then predict a lockout.

What won the game was "The Dunk."

I expect its momentum to carry-on until tonight.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.




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