GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 30 21 24 25 100
Play by Play New Orleans Hornets 23 19 26 18 86

Lakers take 2-1 series lead with win over Hornets


NEW ORLEANS (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol snapped out of his playoff funk with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers took control of their first-round playoff series with a 100-86 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.

Andrew Bynum added 14 points and 11 rebounds and Lamar Odom had 13 points for the two-time defending champs, who took the lead for good when Ron Artest made a layup as he was fouled to make it 13-10.

The victory gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game 4 in New Orleans on Sunday.

Chris Paul had 22 points and eight assist for the Hornets, who managed to stay within single digits for long stretches of the game but never truly threatened to take the lead.

Bryant's intensity was evident from the opening minutes when he violently rejected Carl Landry's attempted close-range shot out of bounds and soon after he cut into the lane for a vicious one-handed jam.

Hornets fans' attempts at booing or heckling him only seemed to help him focus. Hitting on his typical array of demoralizing 3s and off balance jumpers off the glass, he had 15 points in the first half. He didn't need to take the game over in the second because of Gasol's emergence, which the Lakers thought was long overdue after he averaged only eight points, about 11 below his average, during the first two games of the series.

Although Gasol still didn't seem quite himself in the first half, when he had four points, he became a factor when it mattered, hitting a momentum-changing 3 from the corner that made it 78-70 early in the fourth quarter. The basket ignited a 10-1 run during which Gasol scored seven points, adding a putback and a soft jumper from the baseline to give Los Angeles an 85-71 lead with 8:36 left, the Lakers' largest lead to that point.

Paul meanwhile, faded a bit in the second half, when he scored only four points.

The Lakers wound up cruising with a double-digit lead for much of the fourth quarter in the most convincing performance of the series by either team. If the Hornets are unable to bounce back in Game 4, the Lakers could close out the series at home in Game 5 on Tuesday night.

Certainly, the Hornets will need better production from their bench, which was a major factor in their surprising Game 1 triumph but accounted for only nine points on 4-of-17 shooting in Game 3.

Landry scored 23 points for New Orleans, while Trevor Ariza had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Emeka Okafor had 15 points.

Derek Fisher had 10 points for Los Angeles.

The Lakers' size advantage translated to a 48-42 edge in points in the paint and a 43-38 advantage in rebounding. That included 14 offensive rebounds that helped produce 17 second-chance points.

The Hornets kept the crowd in the game by outscoring the Lakers by a point in the third quarter, marking the first time in six quarter since their Game 1 win that they had done so.

Still, Los Angeles led 75-68 heading into the fourth quarter, and the Hornets would only get as close as 75-70 before Gasol's scoring spurt put the Lakers firmly in command.

Bynum helped the Lakers dictate the pace of the game early, tormenting New Orleans in the paint with four offensive rebounds and all 14 of his points by halftime. The Lakers took their largest lead of the first half when Bryant's 3, followed by Bynum's overpowering low-post move on Okafor, made it 43-32.

It might have been worse if not for Paul, who had 18 points in the first half, including seven late in the second quarter to trim New Orleans' deficit to 51-42 at halftime.

NOTES: Since Game 1, Hornets reserves are 9 of 34 from the field for 22 points. ... Bynum's right knee started bothering him early in the third quarter. He stayed down behind one play while trainers looked at him but he remained in the game. ... Fisher was called for a technical foul for elbowing Marco Belinelli in the jaw after Belinelli had committed a foul. ... Although the crowd was not nearly as star-studded as the first two games in Los Angeles, there were several celebrities in the sellout crowd of 18,340, including musician 50 Cent, actor Gerard Butler and Saints running back Reggie Bush. ... A fan made a halfcourt shot during a timeout to win a year's supply of 7up.

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
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1 Point scored by Andrew Bynum in the second half after he dominated New Orleans in the first half with 13 points and nine boards. In related news, Bynum tweaked his knee early in the third quarter, momentarily paralyzing Lakers fans, but he got up and played 15 more minutes, clogging the paint defensively despite losing the explosion he showed in the first half.

4 Consecutive wins for L.A. in the playoffs in Game 3¡äs they entered in a series tied at 1-1. First Houston in the Western Semi's in 2009, then Denver in that year's Western Finals, Boston in the 2010 NBA Finals and finally New Orleans on Friday.

7 Pau Gasol points in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, including his first playoff three-pointer as a Lakers, to reach 17 in the game. He added ten boards, four assists and a block in a strong bounce-back game from two far below his standards in Games 1 and 2, much to L.A.'s delight.

13 Turnovers on the Lakers in the first three quarters, one of the factors allowing N.O. to stay in the game down seven points heading into the fourth.

48.6 L.A.'s shooting percentage in an efficient all-around effort on offense, led by Bryant's 10-for-20, Gasol's 7-for-13 and Derek Fisher's 3-for-4.

80 Times in Kobe Bryant's playoff career that he's scored at least 30 points, a mark he reached on a baseline floater through traffic with 1:21 left in the game.

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Points Bryant 30, 10-20 FG
Rebounds Bynum 11, 5 OFF 6 DEF
Assists Fisher 5
Steals Bryant, Fisher 3
Blocks Brown, Bryant, Gasol 1


Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson:
(On the Game) "Although we had a lot of turnovers the first half, I felt our energy was right and we played the game we wanted to play. We were controlling in how we wanted to run the offense. Our defense was OK. Chris had a big first half, he was getting inside the lanes and getting easy jump shots. We tried to make adjustments in the second half to try and contain him a little bit better. I thought we did a better job in the second half. We got off to a quick start, with a couple threes and we were able to hold that momentum. The big aspect is Pau (Gasol) having that two, three minutes of offensive display there in the fourth quarter, it helped establish the lead and give us some room."

(On the team's play tonight) "It's a mindset that I think we could all kind of feel. It was generated by a number of things that came together. We focused on our defense although we had a winning game, the last game 14, 16 point lead in the fourth quarter, we really didn't finish that game off right. We talked about doing that the right way and establishing Kobe's as an offensive threat tonight. So he just wasn't content to distribute the ball."

(On Pau Gasol's play) "He is just too good a basketball player, he can shoot the basketball, he can handle the ball, he can do a lot of things, it's just a matter of him finding a comfort zone out there. I didn't expect him to find it out on the three point line, but we are not surprised when he makes those shots."

(On taking the Hornets seriously) "Well it's not about that, it's not about taking the Hornets seriously. It's about us, it's about our team and it's about supporting each other. We know what the Hornets are like. We know their tenacity, obviously accumulating knowledge about how they play, but there was never a time when we were not serious about the Hornets. It was about coming out and understanding about them and how they play."

Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant:

(On playing his game): "I just went out there and played my game. I'm a scorer first. Pau helped open things up. It's funny because he missed a lot of shots close to the rim and then he knocked down a three point shot. That seemed to get him going. But it makes a big difference for us when he's able to score in the paint."

Lakers Guard Steve Blake:

(On the Lakers playing well defensively): "We just had a defensive presence from the very beginning. Our bigs played great, and our defensive guards were moving their feet, and then we finished off with our rebounds. We made Chris Paul take contested long two's over our bigs. You don't want him creating threes and easy dunks for his teammates. If we can continue to do that, hopefully he'll miss them next time."

(On possibly getting a win in game four): "A win Sunday would be huge. Every game is important. If you let them get back to 2-2, it changes everything. We have to stay focused, have a great day of practice, mentally and physically, and come Sunday really focus."

Lakers Forward Lamar Odom:

(On making the Hornets work for shots): "I think overall we made those guys work today. We made it tough. We just played all around basketball. We took the ball inside, took the ball to the hole, took jumpers that were open, and then after that we just played tough."

(On getting a win Sunday): "We would love to win on Sunday. We don't want to give them any bulletin board material, but during the playoffs, especially on the road, is the best time to play your best game as a team."

(On communicating on defense): "Defensively, our communication is working better, the way we pressure the ball. Even on their drives, we rolled guys all the way to the hole, and help stepped up just in time. We defensive rebounded when we needed to. Our overall effort, the way we carried ourselves, our disposition as a team, our energy collectively, was altogether today."

(On the play of Pau Gasol): "Pau Gasol hasn't had too many bad games. He may have an off night, so what? You make, you miss, you put it behind you and you move on."

Hornets Head Coach Monty Williams
(On the Lakers' rebounding tonight)"It's been a thorn in our sides the whole series. They've rebounded the ball well. We've forced stops and we are not able to get the rebound. It's something we've emphasized since day one of training camp how important it is for, not only the bigs, but our guards as well to rebound. They have a lot of things in their favor; the length, they are probably a lot bigger than we are but the rebounding to a degree is about attitude and we just have to believe we can get those rebounds. I think it will make our game a lot easier."

(On the most disappointing thing tonight) "You don't have enough time for that one. The thing that is disappointing is just losing. I hate losing. I hate everything about it. It just makes everything bad; food, you don't sleep well. The fact that we lost just bothers me. I'm probably not the best person to answer that after losing so I'll just leave it at that."

(On Chris Paul not being a big factor)
"I have to look at the film so I can assess that properly, but I think when other guys are knocking down shots it's hard to key on Chris (Paul) and if you look at the numbers tonight we did not shoot the ball well. Whether it's because of spacing or their defense, and you have to give them credit, they turned up their pressure after game one and we haven't dealt with that well. And so for us it's not about Chris (Paul), obviously we need him to score and he did that for most of the game but if other guys knock down shots we have to get easy baskets, everything is a jump shot for us. When we are rolling we are getting easy baskets in transition and you can't name a lot of transition baskets tonight. I am not worried about Chris (Paul). He will find his spots and he'll be aggressive but us, as a whole, I didn't think we played an efficient offensive game tonight."

Chris Paul
(On Sunday's game being a must win)
"It is definitely a must win, but we understand its only 2-1 right now. They took home court back but Sunday is a must win. We need to win that game and we showed the ability to win in L.A. but we have to take it one game at a time and most of all protect our home court and win that game Sunday."

(On recapturing the magic of game one)
"Game one is game one and we can't keep dwelling on that game. Every game takes on its own personality, but I think what I think we can do is continue to look and see what we did and just come out with that same defense intensity that we did in game one. That is why we won that game and we have to find it again in game four."
"They gave us a few different looks tonight in the ball screen. They would trap occasionally, they would shrink the court, but I think we did a pretty good job of adjusting to it. In the first half I was able to get in that lane a little bit and find my spots, but in the second half not as much."

(On having the fans behind them today on the home court)
"That was great. It reminded me a little bit of 2007-08. Anybody who lives here knows what the two games against the Lakers are like in the regular season so we say 'Thank You" to the fans because they really came out and gave us an energy like we haven't seen in a long time. We are going to need that again on Sunday. We are sorry that we couldn't give them the win tonight but I guarantee that fans come out there again like they did tonight and we are going to go out there and play just as hard or ever harder."
"I blame myself because I don't care if they deny, I can't let them do that. I have to get my shots, I have to be a little bit more aggressive and not allow them to take me out. I will look at the film tonight when I get home and see when I could have been a little more aggressive and I have to find ways to get more attempts."

Hornets Forward Trevor Ariza
(On the game) "It's not a good feeling. We have to be the team that hits them first. They are too long, too good, and too athletic for us to wait for them. We have to be the aggressor first."

(On being aggressive from the beginning of the game) "Tonight I don't think we did that. We kind of laid back a little bit."

(On the Lakers quick start) "I will just say they started off first, before we did. We don't have the luxuries that they have."

Hornets Guard Jarrett Jack
(On the Lakers quick start) "We just couldn't get to a point to where we were in striking distance. I thought we were able to close it to five, but every time we got there they would make a play and extend the lead. They withstood all of our attempts to make a run, that's why they are the two time defending champions. I thought we fought hard. Early mistakes kind of put us in the hole, and allowed them to get up on us and we were playing catch up for the rest of the game pretty much."

(On starting the game off aggressively) "That's what you go into every game trying to do. You want to be the person to hit first. They were able to get out and get a rhythm early, and it pretty much lasted throughout the game."


By BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP)¡ªIf Pau Gasol can't get comfortable in a city once ruled by his native Spain, the Los Angeles Lakers could be in for a long series.

The Hornets already are showing signs of making the first round of the playoffs more than a mere formality for the two-time defending champs, having seized home advantage with a 1-1 split of the series' first two games in Los Angeles.

Four-time All-Star Chris Paul and his upstart squad will be back home for Friday night's Game 3, which perhaps not-so-coincidentally sold out soon after Paul led the Hornets to an upset victory in the opening game of the best-of-seven series.

Even in losing on Wednesday night, the Hornets showed they were not about to let the Lakers wipe the floor with them. New Orleans remained competitive until the final minutes of Game 2 and lost by nine despite missing 12 free throws, turning the ball over 16 times and having starting center Emeka Okafor in early foul trouble.

If anything, that result left the Hornets' surprising nine-point triumph in Game 1 look like less of a fluke and made it clear that the Lakers had lost any intimidation factor they may have earned with their four-game sweep of the teams' regular season meetings.

"We feel as though we kind of beat ourselves," Hornets guardJarrett Jack said of Game 2. "Take no credit away from them, but we definitely had some mistakes."

Then again, things might have been different if Gasol hadn't struggled in both games. He scored eight points in each¡ªabout 11 below his regular season average¡ªon a combined 4 of 19 shooting.

For now, Gasol at least sounds as if his confidence is unshaken and he knows the formula for snapping out of his postseason shooting slump.

"You've got to stay aggressive out there, no matter what's going on, no matter whether things are going your way or not," Gasol said. "You've got to continue to play and continue to make plays whichever way you can."

Even Kobe Bryant, who hasn't been shy about urging Gasol to overcome his nice-guy nature on the court, was more complimentary of the struggling forward's Game 2 performance.

"He didn't have a good shooting night, but he was aggressive and he attacked," Bryant said. "That's what we need from him. He sets the tone for everybody else in terms of him being aggressive. It's a certain energy that he carries with him."

The Lakers survived Gasol's 2 of 10 shooting on Wednesday in part because they simply have the depth one expects from a title contender.Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom and Ron Artest picked up the slack on offense. Meanwhile, the whole team played better defense after Phil Jackson decided to have Bryant replace Derek Fisher as Paul's primary defender.

Rather than filling his normal role of piling up points, Bryant focused on defense and it seemed to catch on among his teammates. Jackson was clearly pleased and could very well employ the same strategy again on Friday night.

"That was the defense that we played late in the season when we had our little run," Jackson said, referring to an 18-game stretch in which the Lakers won 17 times.

Paul went from being dominant (33 points, 14 assists in Game 1) to exceptional (20 points, nine assists in Game 2) and the Hornets offensive flow as a whole seemed more disrupted as their shooting percentage plummeted from 52 percent to 39 percent.

"I wish we could have gotten 2-0, but I feel good because we competed," Paul said. "But in order to win this series, it's going to take more. It's going to take more from me, it's going to take more from everybody."

Hornets rookie coach Monty Williams wasn't ready to congratulate his team on leaving Los Angeles with one win. Rather, he wondered whether he should be concerned that his team let an opportunity to take a 2-0 lead slip away.

"It's different because we're playing against a team that has so much experience in these situations, and we don't and I don't," Williams said. "So, we have to play a certain way. We can't say 'Oh, we split in LA, now let's go home.' We have to have the mentality that we have to win every game that we can."

In other words, Williams remembers how the Lakers ripped the 2009-10 NBA title from Boston's grasp after falling behind 3-2 in the finals¡ªand overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half of Game 7 to do it.

Compared to the task they faced against the Celtics last June, the Lakers challenge in the Big Easy doesn't look all that hard. At least, not yet.

Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

Lakers Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) will play.
Matt Barnes (sore right knee) is probable.
Steve Blake (chickenpox) is probable.
Andrew Bynum (bone bruise, right knee) is probable.
Devin Ebanks (stress fracture, left tibia) is out.

David West (torn ACL, left knee) is out.

Game 1: 4/17 - NOH @ LAL L 109-100
Game 2: 4/20 -
NOH @ LAL W 87-78
Game 3: 4/22 -
Game 4: 4/24 -
Game 5: 4/26 -
Game 6: 4/28 -
Game 7: 4/20 -
* if necessary

Regular Season:
- LAL @ NOH W 103-88
01/07 - NOH @ LAL W 101-98
02/05 - LAL @ NOH W 101-95
03/27 - NOH @ LAL W 102-84

Sometimes stats can be deceptive but sometimes they do tell an accurate story of a game. There are some numbers from Game two that definitely help explain our improvement. The first one that jumps out is the points in the paint. We scored 50 in the paint as opposed to the 32 tallied by New Orleans. That is an impressive number especially in light of the fact that we only scored 87 points overall. We need to continue to get the ball inside as that is where our biggest advantage is against this team. Another offensive statistic that is also important is the fact that we had 20 assists on our 34 made baskets. Once again this ratio is favorable and what we need to try and achieve every game. These two statistical areas let us know that we were playing the right way on the offensive end. The ball was going inside and was moving which is the way we will need to play to beat the pesky defense of the Hornets.

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The Lakers swept their season series with New Orleans 4-0 after taking last season's series from the Hornets 2-1. The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games against the Hornets and have won seven of their last eight overall. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 homes games against the Hornets and are 14-4 all-time against the Hornets at STAPLES Center. Since the Hornets move to New Orleans from Charlotte prior to the 2002-03 season, the Lakers have gone 9-3 at New Orleans Arena while going 0-2 at Ford Center in Oklahoma City during their temporary relocation from 2005-07. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 23-9 against the Hornets. In 2006, the Lakers and Hornets took part in the city of New Orleans first professional sports game following Hurricane Katrina when they met at the New Orleans Arena March 8, 2006. The Lakers won that contest 113-107 behind 40 points from Kobe Bryant. In 2006-07, Bryant scored a series record 50 points 3/23/07, becoming just the second player in NBA history to score 50+ points in four consecutive games. In 2007-08 (11/6/07), Peja Stojakovic made a Lakers opponent record 10 three-point field goals while Chris Paul became only the 7th Lakers opponent to record at least 21 assists in a game and the first since John Stockton did so in April of 1990. In a January 6, 2009 loss to New Orleans, David West scored a series-high 40 points for the Hornets, surpassing Baron Davis' mark of 37 established when the team was in Charlotte in 2002. Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons spent the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons as an assistant coach in New Orleans. Hornets forward Trevor Ariza played 106 regular season games with Los Angeles from 2007-09, averaging 8.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.54 steals during his Lakers career while helping the team to the 2009 NBA Championship. Additionally, Hornets center DJ Mbenga played three seasons with the Lakers from 2007-10, averaged 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds and was a member of two championship Lakers teams (2009, 2010). The Lakers and Hornets have never met in the playoffs prior to this year. This is the Hornets 3rd appearance as a Western Conference team (2008, 2009, 2011) and 12th overall.

OPENING ROUND HISTORY (Los Angeles era only)
The Lakers have now opened the Playoffs in the FIRST Round 40 times and in the SECOND round on seven occasions (1962, 63, 65, 66, 80, 82, 83) since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season. The Lakers have won 36-of-46 opening playoff series over that span and are 137-70 (.662) in opening round games. In Game 1's of their first postseason series, the Lakers are now 34-13. When the Lakers have had home-court advantage in the opening round, they have posted a 33-2 series record. When winning Game 1 in the opening round, the Lakers have a series record of 33-1. Their lone loss came to the Phoenix Suns (2-3) in 1993. When falling behind 0-1 in the opening round, the Lakers are just 3-9. The Lakers three opening round series victories when losing Game 1 came in 1995 vs. Seattle, 1979 vs. Denver and 1969 vs. San Francisco. Only in the San Francisco series, when they lost their first two games at home but won the series in six games, did the Lakers have home court advantage.

With 11 points April 20 vs. New Orleans, Kobe Bryant scored 10+ points in a playoff game for the 151st consecutive time. The 11 points were Bryant's fewest during the streak, which began in Game 6 of the 2000 NBA Finals vs. Indiana (6/19/2000), since he scored 11 points in Game 3 of the 2004 NBA Finals at Detroit (6/10/04). The only streak longer than Bryant's in NBA history is Michael Jordan's run of 179 consecutive double-figure scoring playoff games from 4/19/85 ¨C 6/14/98 (end of his career).

On Tuesday, April 19, the NBA announced Lamar Odom as the recipient of the 2010-11 Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award. The honor, voted on by a panel of 117 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada, is the first for Odom as well as the first for a Lakers player since the award's inception prior to the 1982-83 season. Odom received 513 of a possible 585 points, including 96 of a possible 117 first-place votes. Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks finished second with 244 points while Thaddeus Young of the Philadelphia 76ers finished third with 76 points. In order to be eligible for this award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started (Odom came off the bench in 47 contests). Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote. As part of its support of the Sixth Man Award, Kia Motors America donated a new Kia Sorento CUV to the Lakers Youth Foundation (the charity of Odom's choice) whose goal is to assist nonprofit community organizations.

Odom, a two-time NBA Champion and member of the gold medal winning 2010 USA Basketball Men's World Championship team, appeared in all 82 games for the Lakers this season, averaging 14.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 32.2 minutes. Ranked 15th among league leaders in rebounds and 11th (.530) in field goal percentage, Odom recorded 28 double-doubles on the season while scoring 20-plus points 14 times. Earlier this season, he became the 23rd player in NBA history to reach 12,000 career points, 7,000 career rebounds and 3,000 career assists as well as the 9th fastest ever to do so in terms of games (821).

Since moving to STAPLES Center prior to the 1999-2000 season, the Lakers have won 83% of their postseason home games (75-15). The Lakers have topped the century mark in over half of their postseason home games at STAPLES Center (52-of-90) while the opposition has been held under 100 points in all but 27 of those games. Since the start of the 2008 NBA Playoffs, the Lakers are 32-5 in games played at STAPLES Center. In their last 53 home playoff games, the Lakers are 45-8. The Lakers had won 12 straight home playoff games dating back to the 2009 Western Conference Finals before losing Game 2 of to 2010 NBA Finals at home.

Last postseason, with the Lakers victory over Utah in Game 1 of the 2010 Conference Semifinals, Phil Jackson won for the 103rd time with the Lakers in the playoffs, passing Pat Riley (102) for most playoff victories in Lakers franchise history. Overall, Jackson owns a 226-99 postseason record, with his 226 victories being the most of any NBA coach in playoff history. Additionally, Jackson's 325 career playoff games are also the most of any coach in playoff history, while his .695 postseason win percentage is tops among all coaches as well. With the Lakers 2010 NBA Championship, Jackson (11 as head coach, 2 as player) further surpassed legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach (9) for most championships won by a head coach while also further passing fellow Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell (11) for most championships won by a player/coach. Jackson has taken his teams to the NBA Finals 13 times, tying him with NHL coaching legend Scotty Bowman for most trips to the Finals in a major professional sport played in the United States.

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