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Category: New Orleans Hornets

Chris Paul deal: NBA must admit its mistake, reverse decision

With all the anger spurred by the NBA's rejection of a trade that would've sent the New Orleans Hornets' Chris Paul to the Lakers, Commissioner David Stern needs to own up to a mistake and reverse course
With all the anger spurred by the NBA's rejection of a trade that would've sent the New Orleans Hornets' Chris Paul to the Lakers, Commissioner David Stern needs to host his own one-hour special to explain his "Decision."

He must apologize for flexing his muscle in the front-office operations of the Hornets', a team owned by the league. He must acknowledge that some team owners, including the Cleveland Cavaliers' Dan Gilbert, urged Stern to intervene in the deal. He must admit he failed during the recent labor negotiations to come up with a way to keep this situation from happening. And then he must backtrack and allow the trade to go through.

Why? Basketball reasons, of course.

But this time, instead of a disingenuous cover for Stern's desire to restrict player movement, "basketball reasons" would serve as a legitimate argument beyond minimizing the public-relations damage from rejecting the proposed Lakers-Hornets-Houston Rockets deal. Stern's explanation to Bloomgberg doesn't cut it: "The decision was taken that Chris Paul in New Orleans was more valuable than the trade that was being discussed."

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Lakers shouldn't see early playoff adversities as lessons


Considering each run to a championship a journey, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has compared that process to a school year.

The season proves just as long. There are plenty of ups and downs. And there are plenty of teachable moments.

"It's a process that for me I've had great fortune in looking at seasons as something of a long haul where it's going to be an eight-month or seven-and-a-half month project," Jackson said before the 2010-2011 season started. "But in reality, you still have to give import to this opening game or this next game next week or this preseason game."

It's a tough balancing act between ensuring that team members strategically pace themselves without mailing in performances, and ensuring that they play sharp basketball without burning out. The most telling example is the San Antonio Spurs, who looked mostly sharp throughout the season en route to a Western Conference-leading 61-21 record, only to lose a six-game first-round playoff series to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Lakers guard Derek Fisher once argued that the team needs challenges and adversities because that allows for "true growth." That's fair enough, but save those lessons for the regular season.

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Top five stories in Lakers-Hornets series

photo: The Lakers huddle before entering the court at New Orleans Arena on Sunday night before Game 4 of their first-round playoff series against the Hornets. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times Soon enough, we'll be getting into the inevitable back and forth between Phil Jackson and Mark Cuban, see if Matt Barnes has anything to say to Jason Terry's argument that Barnes is actually soft, and if there really are any memorable performances in the Lakers-Mavericks matchup, a playoff pairing not seen since the 1988 Western Conference semifinals. 

But that doesn't mean I'm moving past the Lakers-Hornets first-round series just yet. There's plenty to analyze regarding individual performances and series-wide trends. Below the jump are what I consider the top five stories surrounding the series. 

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Caught in the Web: Reactions to Lakers' 98-80 Game 6 victory over New Orleans Hornets

Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest flexes after scoring against Hornets point guard Chris Paul in Game 6 on Thursday night. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times / April 28, 2011

This is a photo-caption contest in itself. When Ron Artest flexed his muscles during Thursday's game, it was the equivalent of Chick Hearn saying the game was in the refrigerator. At that point, everyone knew the Lakers had secured the victory. 

Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan explains how the Lakers' size proved too overwhelming in their 98-80 Game 6 victory over the New Orleans Hornets. 

--The Times-Picayune's Jimmy Smith believes the Lakers' size proved too much for the Hornets. 

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford details how the Lakers evolved throughout the series. 


--The Times' Broderick Turner credits Lamar Odom's Game 6 performance.

--The Times' Chris Dufresne points out Chris Paul's ineffectiveness in Game 6. 

--The Times-Picayune's John Reid explains why Paul remains optimistic about the team's future. 


--The Times' Bresnahan and Turner examine how Pau Gasol improved throughout the first-round series against New Orleans. 

--The Daily News' Teaford highlights the NBA's decision to upgrade Kobe Bryant's foul on Emeka Okafor in Game 5 to a flagrant-1. 


The Basketball Jones put together a video compilation of Artest's muscle flex.

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Looking at who fared better guarding Chris Paul


The debate surrounding how Derek Fisher matches up with elite point guards will never subside and will remain volatile at least to the day his contract with the Lakers expires after the 2012-2013 season.

In unsurprising fashion, he also became the topic of scrutiny throughout this first-round series against New Orleans, where he had the unenviable task of guarding Chris Paul. But just listen to the man himself, who said dropping a triple double and becoming a pest to the Lakers in their six-game series didn't exactly come easy.

"A lot of the credit goes to Derek Fisher," Paul told reporters in New Orleans. "I told him after the game that he played unbelievable defense for the entire series."

But this isn't just the Hornets' elite guard giving lip service. A look through NBA StatsCube shows there's an element of truth to that. Below are the following findings on how the Lakers matched up with Paul, who averaged 22.5 points on 54.5% shooting and 11.5 assists.

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Lakers discuss Game 6 victory over New Orleans Hornets


--Mark Medina

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Lakers' 98-80 Game 6 victory over New Orleans featured strong defensive effort

Lakers5_510 The Lakers' makeup doesn't make practice time ripe in preparing for the pick-and-roll offense no matter what they do.

Sure they can dissect film, mimic opposing team's tendencies and run pick-and-roll sequences until it's drilled into their heads. But part of the practice time also entails running the triangle offense, which operates without the traditional point guard and stresses off-ball movement and balanced spacing. Add the Lakers' veteran-laden roster, and it becomes the main area to try to exploit against them, a dicey scenario when they matched up with the New Orleans Hornets in the first round.

But if the Lakers' 98-80 Game 6 victory Thursday over New Orleans taught us anything besides the fact the defending champs survived their first-round series in six games and face the winner of Portland-Dallas in the West semifinals at Staples Center on Monday, it's that the matchup featured an evolution in how they guarded the pick-and-roll and eventually succeeded.

"It's been our weakness in the past," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson told reporters in New Orleans. "We learned a lot about it in the series and we got better."

That learning exercise reached its ending point in Game 6 where the Lakers largely depended on their defense to secure the victory and earn them three days of rest and practice time before the next series. The Lakers held Hornets guard Chris Paul to 10 points on four-for-nine shooting, 11 assists and five turnovers, a severe dropoff to the series average of 24.4 points on 55.9% shooting and the triple-double effort he posted in Game 4. The Lakers limited the Hornets to a 30-for-70 clip from the field (42.9%) and blocked six shots, including two each by Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. And they scored 18 points off 14 turnovers.

But it's not so much the stats that made the Lakers' defensive effort impressive so much as to how they played it.

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Lakers Chat: Lakers vs. Hornets Game 6

Join the chat after the jump!

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Lakers vs. Hornets Game 6: Lakers 98, Hornets 80

Lakers1_600 Destination, Dallas.

Or Portland.

Either way, the Lakers will be the well-rested host for Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinal series against the Mavericks or Trail Blazers. They got the weekend off by defeating the Hornets, 98-80, in Game 6 on Thursday night at New Orleans Arena, winning the series, 4-2.

"It was huge," center Andrew Bynum said in his on-court TV interview of finishing the series in six games.

Game 1 of the next round will be Monday night at Staples Center.

To get there, it took three and a half quarters of hard work and tight defense -- the latter part of the fourth was mostly garbage time. The Lakers heroes were many: Bynum was a force early at both ends, finishing with a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds.

To get an idea of how dominant Bynum was in that department: Pau Gasol and Ron Artest combined for 12 rebounds.

Kobe Bryant and his sore left ankle managed a game-high 24 points, going six for 16 from the field. He hit all 10 of his free throws. Gasol had 16 points and Lamar Odom added 14 off the bench.

Hornets point guard Chris Paul, who vowed to come out guns blazing in Game 6, did just the opposite, starting quietly and he didn’t get the supporting help needed and looked dejected on the bench in the final seconds.

Paul got into double-digits late, finishing with 10 points and 11 assists, while power forward Carl Landry led the Hornets with 19 points.


Lakers-Hornets Game 6 box score

Lakers-Hornets Game 6 photo gallery

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Kobe Bryant foul upgraded by NBA

The foul Kobe Bryant committed against New Orleans center Emeka Okafor in Game 5 was upgraded to a flagrant one.

Bryant smacked Okafor across the face and neck with 3:14 left in the game Tuesday night at Staples Center but was called for just a foul on the play.

But after the NBA reviewed the play, Bryant had his foul upgraded.

The Lakers were informed of the upgrade during Thursday's shoot-around.

Incidentally, Okafor missed both free throws on the play.

-- Broderick Turner, reporting from New Orleans

Photo: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, right, fouls New Orleans Hornets center Emeka Okafor as he goes up for a shot during the second half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series, Tuesday. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / AP



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