Game Notes: Hornets at Lakers
Even one-legged people can buy a flyswatter.
by Ben Collins
Oh, who were you kidding?
This Hornets mini-run, scare-like thing was fun while it lasted. These are the sort of flings the Lakers have when they’re bored in the suburbs, want to scare their dad, want to dance all night until they feel alive, etc. etc. etc.
But it’s over now. The Lakers have to get a real job to pay rent. They outclassed the Hornets last night, winning 106-90.
A reporter asked Pau Gasol if they were making a concerted effort to play physically, to fight for rebounds with some actual zeal.
“We should do that all the time,” he said.
I should get my taxes in on time all the time. I should have a salad instead of two bags of Skittles all the time. Etc. etc. etc. Work, work, work.
There are people in this press conference room saying things like, “The Hornets crumbled like a stale…” Then they’re naming a food product.
No, they didn’t.
The Hornets are one great player, Chris Paul—a shining, beautiful light buzzing gracefully, or whatever; he’s probably the best player in the playoffs—and he’s surrounded by a bunch of complete horses**t cap fillers. Their second-best player tonight was the fifth or sixth-best player on the Lakers when they won the Finals two years ago. Their third-best player was cast off the Raptors in a hurry before training camp ended so he wouldn’t mess up the promising young career of Alexis Ajinca.
Kobe only played 28 minutes. The first eight were very, very sketchy. But 20 minutes of a good, semi-bipedal Kobe Bryant is better than 48 minutes of any Hornet not named Chris Paul.
It’s unfair to Chris Paul to say this team crumbled. This team is barely a playoff team held up on one beam at the middle, and that’s exactly what their record says.
You could say the coaching was a wash, too, for three quarters. Then there was 7:22 left, the Hornets were down by 15, and Chris Paul still wasn’t back in the game. I don’t care what sort of perfect Princeton/Triangle combo you might be running. That doesn’t work. Monty Williams didn’t manage his only player correctly tonight and that was their only chance.
“There was more of a focus to be physical tonight. I know you guys saw it. A lot of it was… not basketball,” said Williams. “Our guys are going down when he goes to the basket.”
Yeah, because the Lakers finally decided to play like the team that they are.
They asked Kobe about the physicality afterwards. Kobe, the one with the sprained ankle, laughed.
“All this talk about his ankle—did it look like his ankle was hurting? Okay, then. That’s why I don’t get into all of it,” said Williams. “It is what it is.”
Don’t ruin our fling, Monty. Don’t get bitter. What we had was beautiful, but we have to move on, etc. etc. etc.
- They really tamped down the douche for that national anthem. Good start.
- Super noisy ovation for a surprisingly not-that-gimpy Kobe.
- Ron Artest won the citizenship award. Please, just kill me now.
- Seriously, we have guys in the NBA (granted, it’s like two of them) who are essentially professional charity machines in their spare time. Ron Artest—a 6-7, 260 lb. pro athlete—isn’t seven years removed from indiscriminately punching out people in the stands who didn’t throw a beer at him.
- Just, really, kill me. Get it over with.
- Really long Marco Belinelli bloody-nose delay there. I like that the same thing that stops Bingo night at the LA County VFW stops the start of an NBA playoff game.
- Hornets are up 7-4 and none of these points are Chris Paul’s. Ariza layup, then a draw-and-kick three.
- Carl Landry lost a contact, so the New Orleans Hornets call a timeout.
- Trevor Ariza really needed to brush his teeth, so the Hornets call another timeout just to make sure he has time to floss.
- Good Lakers offense there. Artest gets the Hornets D to collapse and gets Fish for an open three. Not much Kobe so far.
- Artest pops and hits a contested 3. 10-9, Lakers.
- Ariza three. 14-14. This is the exact opposite of that last game—the one where several reporters and I awkwardly made breakfast together afterwards out of habit from all the sleeping we did next to each other.
- Fish gets a corner bucket. Kobe has one point. It’s that kind of evening. He hasn’t made a move toward the basket. 18-17, Hornets.
- Paul is draped in coverage at the elbow. He drains a J anyway. This guy’s a sick joke. 25-19. I want six re-dos on my MVP ballot.
- Paul to Okafor. Seven assists for Paul. 27-19, Hornets. Kobe’s not in, and it’s so quiet you can hear Grant Hill crying in the corner about the sullying of the citizenship award.
- Chris Paul gets a superstar call—he warded off of Blake, but it’s somehow a foul on the Chicken Pox Machine—so he gets to the line. 29-21.
- Eight assists. Doesn’t matter to who. 31-23.
- Chris Paul and the Electric Flies lead 32-23 at the end of one. Who’s up for a 7-seed/8-seed Western Conference Finals?
- The Hornets are shooting 81 percent from the field. Want to be an NBA superstar? Lose your contact and bleed profusely from your nose.
- Tons of energy from the Lakers at the start of the period.
- Heckler after a Chris Paul steal: “F**k you, Chris Paul!” Straight to the point! Guess you can’t really say, “You suck!”
- Odom layup. Back-to-back Shannon Brown threes. 32-31, New Orleans. The Lakers have some breath without Kobe.
- Matt Barnes gets free on an outlet for a layup. 33-32, Lakers, somehow.
- And now Kobe returns.
- Kobe steps through after a pump-fake and hits a 17-footer. It’s his first field goal and he sort of elevated on that one. 35-34, Lakers.
- The Hornets just doubled Kobe and he airballed a jumper from behind the backboard. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I might want to force Kobe into making some decisions, if I’m the Hornets.
- Yep. Kobe turnover on an iso.
- Severe missed travel call gets the Hornets a free dunk.
- Willie Green with a Detroit-style, “I’ll just crash my 1986 Chrysler LeBaron into you and see what happens” kind of floater. It made me say “ooph” out loud, entirely by accident. 38-38.
- Trevor Ariza gets, let’s say, a generous continuation call for a layup. 44-40.
- Holy shit did that piss Kobe Bryant off. He just absolutely posterized Emeka Okafor. That gets everybody up. They’re chanting MVP.
- Wow. Right back to Kobe, who gets a spin and a floate over three Lakers. 44-44.
- Bynum block. Fisher fast break layup. 46-44, LA.
- Paul turnover. Good lord, what a fast swing. If aliens came down and saw how quickly the people in this arena went from complacent to wanting to stab everybody in turquoise, they’d go right back to their home planet where Donald Trump was born.
- Timeout Hornets, like 40 possessions too late.
- Ariza was 5-for-6, now he permanently looks like Carl Landry trying to find his contact.
- Fisher to Bynum for a free dunk. 50-46.
- Paul 3. He’s still here. 50-49.
- Another Paul bucket. Another Kobe bucket. That’s the half. 54-51.
- Derek Fisher gets a wide-open 3 to start the half.
- Doubled Kobe on an iso. Gets Bynum a wide open J.
- What a couple of vomit-inducing possessions by the Hornets
- Kobe. Just Kobe.
- Okay. Maybe I should explain. He took off for another dunk. It looked like a video game. He should have a bad knee all the time.
- Paul from the ground, seriously, delivers a pass in the shooter’s pocket to Belinelli. He hits it from 3. 67-59, Lakers.
- Paul to Belinelli on the break after a steal. 67-62. 12 point lead cut in half in 40 seconds.
- Kobe. Again. Through four Hornets. That’s not an exaggeration. He made them form a box around him, staved off contact, and hit a layup. Man.
- Kobe with a bullet pass to Lamar, who throws it home Keon Clark-style (I guess Blake Griffin-style) over a sea of defenders that were fouling him. 73-63, Lakers.
- Then Pau with a bucket and foul 75-65, Lakers.
- Back-to-back corner threes for Trevor Ariza. 76-71.
- If you’re wondering, yes, the Lakers are rebounding better than last game. That is to say that their players have decided to stop playing that game where they sit down and yell “No, YOU get it! It’s YOUR turn!” every time there’s a loose ball. That game really bit them in the ass last time.
- Some jostling between Paul and Pau here. And I guess Shannon Brown, too, because he gets the technical.
- 79-72 to end the quarter. It’s closer than it sounds. I bet Paul goes off in the fourth, even if it’s not enough.
- Bynum gets a couple of free throws on a missed, pretty alley-oop to start the quarter. 80-72.
- Lamar just walked over to a spot he’s comfortable with and hit a jumpshot. Nobody on the Hornets without the last name Paul can do that. They’re just outclassed. 87-74.
- Lorne Michaels is here. So is Señor Chang. Guess which person everyone knew.
- The Lakers just want it more. Steve Blake just did some sort of Batman maneuver to snare a rebound from Carl Landry.
- Steve Blake strokes a contested three? Yep. Just typed that. Largest Laker lead yet, 92-76.
- The Hornets’ best offense is Chris Paul taking a jumpshot on a broken play.
- I’m not sure this Hornets team is capable of a quick enough run to make this work. No joke here, just starting realize how boring this fourth quarter is going to get. 97-81, 4:50 left.
- Yeah, this game is over. Kind of want an ice cream sandwich.
- Guy next to me loudly yawns like five times as if to make a point. Four minutes left.
- Flee to the exits, Lakers fans! Flee! Ice cream sandwiches for all, you glorious motherf—ers! Three minutes left.
- Chris Paul is still in because he’s a masochist. Two minutes left.
- 106-90. Hopefully you were in bed already.
– About what he was thinking at the end of the first quarter, facetiously: “Better get him off the floor. He’s a liability.”
– Did that vicious Okafor poster dunk tell you anything about him? “No. Just that he was mad.”
- “There was more focus to be physical tonight. I know you guys saw it. A lot of it was… not basketball.”
- “All this talk about his ankle. Did it look like his ankle was hurting? Okay, then. That’s why I don’t get into all of it. It is what it is.”
- “Our guys are going down when he goes to the basket.”
- Reporter: “(Kobe) looked a little slow in the first.” Paul: “Did he? Did he?”
- “It ain’t got nothin’ to do with his ankle.”
- About the game getting maybe a little too physical: “You said that. I didn’t. Both teams played hard.”
– He’s laughing when you bring up the “physicality.”
- “I don’t know why you guys were so concerned with the MRI. It’s not like we would’ve told you the results anyway.”
- Reporter: “Shannon Brown said the last time you had a dunk like that, he had an afro.” Kobe: “Yeah, he was like, 2. That’s accurate.”