Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lakers Back in Control Against Hornets

The Los Angeles Lakers regained their homecourt advantage Friday night with a 100-86 victory against the Hornets in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series, but they hardly looked like the well-oiled machine that has rolled to the past three N.B.A. Finals.

Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting and Pau Gasol added 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Lakers took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, which resumes Sunday at New Orleans Arena.

Phil Jackson, the Lakers coach, had promised that Bryant would take more than the 10 shots he tried in a 9-point victory in Game 2 in Los Angeles, when he concentrated on containing the Hornets’ Chris Paul. And so it was. After 10 minutes, Bryant had 10 points; he took 11 shots in the first half.

The Lakers led by 13 points after Bryant made a 3-pointer in the first minute of the third quarter. But they could not find another gear to shake off the Hornets, who pulled to 5 points behind, at 73-68, in the final minute on a 15-footer by Paul, who finished with 22 points and 8 assists.

Bryant started the fourth quarter on the bench, which left Gasol as the team’s go-to player. He responded with 7 points in less than four minutes, including the 3-pointer, as the Lakers outscored the Hornets, 25-16, in the final 11 minutes 16 seconds. (Reference)

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