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Category: New Orleans Hornets

Caught in the Web: Lakers prepare for Game 6 against New Orleans

--The Times' Mark Heisler explains the "Kobe rules."

--The Times' Lisa Dillman notes the changed optimism among the Lakers after their Game 5 victory over New Orleans.

--The Times' Broderick Turner talks to Lakers assistant Jim Cleamons about the keys to closing the series out in Game 6.

--The Daily News' Vincent Bonsignore highlights Monty Williams' complaints about the Lakers' physical play.

--The Orange County Register's Janis Carr details Trey Johnson's journey from the D-League to the Lakers.

--The Times-Picayune's John DeShazier argues the Hornets need to play more aggressive in Game 6.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding believes Kobe Bryant's killer instinct will come through in Game 6.

--Ball Don't Lie's Eric Freeman loved Kobe Bryant's dunk over Emeka Okafor. Didn't we all.

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Caught in the Web: Reactions to Lakers' 106-90 Game 5 victory over New Orleans Hornets

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Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan focuses on Kobe Bryant's spectacular performance in the Lakers' 106-90 Game 5 victory Tuesday over the New Orleans Hornets. 

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding didn't notice anything wrong with Bryant's ankle.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen credits the Lakers' reserves in the second quarter. 

--The headline in a report Daily News' Elliott Teaford calls Bryant's play inspired. 

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan reports that the Lakers will not offer new contracts to about 20 key employees on their player-personnel side after the season. 

--The Press-Enterprise's Lassen details Ron Artest winning the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.

--The Times-Picayune's Art Thompson II explains how the Lakers put the Hornets on the verge of elimination. 

Sidebars

--The Times' Broderick Turner noticed that Bryant didn't walk with a limp to the postgame interview room. 

--The Times' Lisa Dillman details Chris Paul's up-and-down play. 

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Kobe Bryant's performance in Lakers' 106-90 Game 5 victory over New Orleans Hornets provides interesting twist to health concerns

61174138With one drive, Kobe Bryant assuaged all fears about his left ankle and foot.

With one hop off his right foot, Bryant told the doctors he didn’t need crutches.

And with one electrifying dunk over Hornets center Emeka Okafor that prompted him to roar, the Lakers bench to rise and the 19,091 at Staples Center to cheer, Bryant provided a diagnosis that no MRI or X-ray could ever reveal.

Injuries and basketball mileage may eventually win in the never-ending fight to remain on top of his game, but no way will he easily cede that throne to a sprained left ankle and foot. The latest example involves Bryant leading the Lakers to a 106-90 Game 5 victory Tuesday over the New Orleans Hornets and dropping 19 points on eight-of-13 shooting in the process.

A sprained left ankle and foot will only make him more resilient. Having to spend the past two days getting what he called "around the clock" and "non stop" treatment on what he called a "stiff" left ankle and foot will only make him stronger. And having to walk to the team bus on crutches following the Lakers' Game 4 loss Sunday to New Orleans will only make him more determined never to have to use them again.

Bryant epitomized that mindset when he received a pass from Lakers forward Pau Gasol at the top of the key, drove through an opening in the lane and powered with a one-handed slam over Okafor. The significance went beyond cutting the Hornets' lead to 44-42 with 3:33 remaining in the second quarter and proving he still has the athleticism he displayed more often wearing the No. 8 jersey, or as Shannon Brown put it, "It looked like he had his Afro back." The play helped set a tone for a game that ultimately gave the Lakers a 3-2 series lead and a chance to close out Thursday at New Orleans.

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L.A. Times' Mark Medina on Lakers' 106-90 Game 5 victory over New Orleans Hornets

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Lakers Chat: Lakers vs. Hornets Game 5

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Join the chat after the jump!

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Lakers vs. Hornets, Game 5 updates: Lakers defeat Hornets, 106-90

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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.

We'll have more on the game soon at latimes.com/sports

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Five things to watch in Game 5 of the Lakers-Hornets series

611258211. How will the Lakers respond to pressure? As much as I believe the Lakers play roulette in making things more competitive than necessary, the team's 2-2 tie with New Orleans entering Game 5 Tuesday at Staples Center isn't anything out of the norm. Consider that many of the Lakers' championship seasons featured playoff series that pushed L.A. to the brink of elimination.

That included the 2000 championship team, which won in five games against Sacramento in the first round and defeated Portland in seven games in the Western Conference Finals. The 2002 title team featured a seven-game West Finals series against the Kings that ended in the Lakers winning at Arco Arena. Remember that 2009 championship when the Lakers went all seven games in the Western Conference semifinals against Houston despite the Rockets having Yao Ming, Dikembe Mutumbo and Tracy McGrady on the injured list? Yeah, Ron Artest does, seeing the Lakers finally eliminate his Rockets en route to an NBA title. And it was only last season when the Lakers went six games in the first round against Oklahoma City, only to finish as defending champions.

"They seem to play better when they're in a desperate mode," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "There's no doubt about that. We've had times in the season where we do the job we're required to do."

The Lakers simply thrive in adverse situations. It's not a good attitude to have and the margin for error decreases every single season. The Lakers aren't at that point yet but Game 5 marks a time when it's safe to presume that the Lakers will bring fuller intensity. Seatgeek.com reports courtside seats are running as high as $1,069 and that tickets overall are averaging $210 a pop, while StubHub says the Lakers-Hornets game is the bestselling game of the week. So it's safe to presume the atmosphere will be more electric than normal. Besides, the Lakers are 26-7 in Game 5 when their best-of-seven series was tied at 2-2, and they even overcame two 3-2 deficits after losing Game 5, including the 2010 NBA Finals to Boston and the 2002 Western Conference Finals to Sacramento.

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Caught in the Web: Lakers prepare for Game 5 against New Orleans

Lk7353nc --The Times' Mike Bresnahan details the Lakers' adversities, including Kobe Bryant's physical status, Derrick Caracter's arrest and the team's overall play.

--The Times' Broderick Turner explains the adjustments the Lakers plan to make on Hornets guard Chris Paul.

--The Times' Mark Heisler wonders if the Lakers will get out of their funk.

--Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin says Derrick Caracter's arrest won't help his future in the NBA. Helin also criticizes Bryant's decision not to get tests on his ankle.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding relishes the Bryant-Paul matchup.

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper looks at the long-term implications Bryant's ankle injury could have on the Lakers. 

--ESPN Los Angeles' Brian Kamenetzky wonders if Bryant is being an ironman or just stubborn.

--The Times-Picayune's Nakia Hogan details Trevor Ariza's settling in with New Orleans.

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Laker update: Stopping Chris Paul and other issues for Gasol

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So, what does Pau have to say about stopping Paul?

That would be Lakers power forward Pau Gasol on trying to slow down Hornets point guard Chris Paul. Paul, of course, had a triple-double (27 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds) for New Orleans in Game 4.

"We have to be aggressive with him," Gasol said after practice Monday afternoon. "He's been too comfortable handling the ball. His decision-making has been way too effective. So we need to make somebody else make the decision that he's making. Basically just attack him a little more. Attack the ball, attack him. Just force him to make errors."

Meanwhile, Gasol remains fully confident that Kobe Bryant, the reluctant patient with a sprained left ankle, will be in action during Game 5 on Tuesday night at Staples Center. 

"I think he'll play no matter what, regardless," Gasol said. "So I'm not going to think about anything else. If there's an injury, guys will step up."

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Poll questions surrounding the Lakers-Hornets series

61126174You've sounded off on the Lakers' poor play in their first-round playoff series against New Orleans, now tied at two games apiece.

Some have expressed optimism the Lakers will turn things around and eventually three-peat. Others believe this marks the team's pride before the fall. Still others are simply agitated because the Lakers are unnecessarily playing with their emotions.

And then there are those who don't want to think about it, partly because of the uncertainty surrounding Kobe Bryant's left ankle injury.

I know the eclectic bunch we have here at the Lakers blog, but sometimes I think fan sentiment gets categorized as simply either reactionary or in denial. When I've sifted through poll results on various Lakers topics I've discovered, however, that underneath the passion and trash there's a healthy, nuanced split on the state of the organization.

That's why this is an appropriate time to open up that forum  so I can precisely compartmentalize what concerns you and what's strictly overblown. I'll then follow up with an analysis piece prior to Game 5 on Tuesday summing up the current state of the common Lakers fan.

So, vote in the polls after the jump and let your voice be heard. I'll probably also feature some of the comments from this post in my story to further illustrate and explain your thoughts on the Lakers' series thus far. 

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