Lakers vs. Hornets, Game 5 updates: Lakers defeat Hornets, 106-90
Final score: Lakers 106, Hornets 90
Now this was the Lakers team everyone was expecting. They put an exclamation point on Game 5 of their best-of-seven series with the New Orleans Hornets. The Lakers lead 3-2 as they head back to New Orleans for Game 6 on Thursday.
Kobe Bryant, the subject of great angst because of an injured ankle, showed he can play through pain. Lots of it. After a tentative first quarter, he showed everyone he’s still Kobe in the second quarter including a signature dunk over Emeka Okafor.
He finished with 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting. And he did that in only 28 minutes. Bryant also had four assists.
There was also a dominating performance by Andrew Bynum, who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. What about the much maligned Pau Gasol? He did quite well with 16 points and eight rebounds.
Ex-Laker Trevor Ariza had 22 points and Chris Paul had 20. Marco Belinelli, playing his best game scored 21.
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Fourth quarter, 3:28 remaining: Lakers 99, Hornets 83
The Lakers came out of the timeout with Andrew Bynum at the line and he converted both. A 15-point lead with about nine minutes to play and it seemed the Lakers had this game in their pocket.
It seemed as if the Lakers were in control so that Kobe Bryant could rest his ankle the rest of the game. But he would have none of it going back in with 5:57 to play. During the timeout Bryant and jumping up and down and running in place.
In fact, Phil Jackson had all his starters but Bynum on the floor with 5:30 to play. He was leaving nothing to chance.
With just under five minutes to play, Ron Artest made two free throws and the Lakers lead was 16.
Fourth quarter, 8:56 remaining: Lakers 87, Hornets 74
It doesn’t take long for a seven-point lead to evaporate, but at least the Lakers were ahead at this point, something they haven’t done too well of late.
Andrew Bynum was fouled 10 seconds into the quarter and made one of two free throws. After a Hornet miss Matt Barnes was fouled going to the basket and made both shots and the Lakers lead was 10 again.
Chris Paul converted on a jumper to cut it to eight but Bynum’s basket and free throw stretched things back to 11. What was impressing the crowd at this point was the aggressive style and hustle of the Lakers.
The Hornets then turned the ball over on a three-second violation and a Lamar Odom jumper put the Lakers up by 13.
End of third quarter: Lakers 79, Hornets 72
Kobe Bryant, having scored 17 points went back to the bench with about three minutes to play in the quarter. But this Laker team was playing with energy, even jumping for rebounds.
Pau Gasol gave them an 11-point lead with 2:44 to play when he converted the free throw for a three-point play. It was Gasol’s 14th point. But Trevor Ariza closed it to eight with a three pointer.
After a couple Laker misses, Ariza hit another three pointer and the lead was down to five. Lamar Odom hit two free throws with 1:07 to play and the lead was back to seven.
With just under a minute to go Shannon Brown exchanged words with Willie Green and was given a technical. The Hornets closed it to six but Derek Fisher converted one of two free throws. On the miss, the Lakers got the rebound but lost the ball with a second to play and they took a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Bryant was the Lakers leading scorer with 17. Ariza had 22 for the Hornets.
Third quarter, 4:45 remaining: Lakers 71, Hornets 64
The tale of the first half was pretty clear and if the Hornets weren’t shooting so well the game might have already been decided. The Lakers were 14-0 in second-chance points and led in points in the paint by 28-16. They also outrebounded the Hornets, 20-12.
But, anyone who follows the Lakers knows nothing is certain and there would likely be some bumps left in the game.
The second half started with the Lakers extending their lead to eight off a three-pointer by Derek Fisher and a basket by Andrew Bynum.
Kobe Bryant had another signature slam with 8:22 left to play to extend the Laker lead to 65-55. The Lakers were playing with spirit and the Staples Center crowd was very much into the game. But would it last or would malaise set in?
But, of course, the Hornets weren’t done and a couple of threes by Marco Belinelli closed the margin to five. Who kept the Lakers in it during that brief stretch? Ron Artest, as he was four of six from the field so far in the game.
A Bryant basket with 4:45 to play took the lead to seven heading into a time out.
Halftime: Lakers 54, Hornets 51
The Hornets came out of the timeout with Trevor Ariza hitting a three pointer. It was his third in four attempts for his 13th point. He followed that up with a questionable continuation basket and the subsequent foul shot.
But then came the moment that everyone was waiting for, an aggressive slam by Kobe Bryant over Emeka Okafor with 3:31 to play signaling to the crowd that he was back. It was followed by chants of “MVP.” Bryant followed that up with a twisting basket underneath. At that point, Bryant was four for seven, better than he has shot in a few games.
But he wasn’t done, scoring again with about 1:40 to play. Suddenly he was the Lakers leading scorer with 11 points. Then with eight seconds left he drove the basket to put the Lakers up by three.
If Chris Paul hadn’t hit two baskets with less than two minutes to play, the Hornets would have been in some trouble.
At halftime, the Lakers were pretty balanced in scoring with Bryant having 13 followed by Andrew Bynum (10), Pau Gasol (9) and Derek Fisher (9).
Ariza led the Hornets with 16. Paul had 11.
Second quarter, 5:14 remaining, Lakers 38, Hornets 38
The second quarter started with Kobe Bryant on the bench, which is the normal rotation for Coach Phil Jackson.
The Lakers went on a run to start the quarter with an 8-0 run on a basket by Lamar Odom and two three-pointers by Shannon Brown. The Hornets called a time out with 9:24 to play, having seen their nine-point lead cut to one, 32-31.
The Hornets came out of the timeout with an errant pass that resulted in a jump ball, which the Hornets won and then followed with another bad pass. Each team missed a basket but the Lakers took their first lead in a while when Matt Barnes hit on a follow of his missed shot.
Bryant re-entered the game with 8:23 to play and made his first jumper — with good elevation — with 7:51 to play in the quarter. It gave the Lakers a 35-34 lead. Bryant then missed badly on a fade-away jumper.
Bryant scored again on a jumper with 5:45 to play and Lakerdom was starting to feel better about things.
End of First quarter, Hornets 32, Lakers 23
Kobe Bryant was on the bench as the Lakers came out of the timeout, as was Pau Gasol.
Chis Paul, who was tough on the Lakers so far this series, scored his first basket with less than three minutes to play. It was part of a 7-0 run by the Hornets that was stopped when Andrew Bynum made two free throws to close the score to 27-21. It was his eighth point to go with five rebounds.
With 1:16 left to play in the quarter, Gasol came back in the game but Bryant remained on the bench. As the quarter ended the Lakers were lucky to be only down by nine points as the Hornets shot 81% from the field, making 13 of 16 shots. The Lakers were nine of 21 for 43%. But, they had only one field goal in the last four minutes of the quarter.
Paul finished the quarter with four points and eight assists.
If the Hornets cool off can the Lakers rebound with a clearly struggling Bryant? Time will tell.
First quarter, 3:39 remaining: Hornets 20, Lakers 19
The Lakers won the tip and Andrew Bynum scored the first basket off a rebound of his layoff. That was the good news. But then Trevor Ariza drove the basket over Kobe Bryant and it was clear the Hornets weren’t afraid to exploit Bryant’s injured ankle.
Bryant didn’t take his first shot until midway through the quarter and that missed. However, he was fouled and made one of two free throws. Still, it was clear the Lakers were going to try and drive the ball inside to Pau Gasol and Bynum. Gasol looked more effective then past games and Bynum looked strong underneath.
Ariza had 10 points before he went to the bench with six minutes left in the quarter. At this break Bynum has six points and Fisher had five. Gasol had four.
As Game 5 between the Lakers and New Orleans Hornets approached there was only one question everybody wanted answered: How is Kobe Bryant?
The Laker star had injured his ankle late in Game 4 and didn’t do any action drills in practice. So all eyes were on him as he went through warm-ups before the game. He clearly was not in top shape. He didn’t really participate in layup drills and exerted minimal effort as the team practiced.
Still, Laker coach Phil Jackson was hopeful he would be able to contribute.
“I’m going to anticipate he’ll rise to the occasion,” Jackson said before the game. Jackson conceded he may have it tough if Bryant is ineffective. “I imagine I might have to make some decisions,” Jackson said.
“But, he’ll [Bryant] have an idea [what he can do]. He’ll know his spots on the floor.”
Check back for updates throughout the game.
-- John Cherwa
Photo: Kobe Bryant dunks during the first half of Game 5 against the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times