The Hornets knew after Sundays outcome that they didnt have to play a perfect game to win on the Lakers home floor. But they were reminded Wednesday that their margin of error against the two-time defending NBA champions certainly isnt big enough to withstand too many miscues and shortcomings in key categories. Two statistics the Hornets 16 turnovers and 12 missed free throws proved extremely costly in an attempt to take what wouldve been a stunning 2-0 series advantage.
New Orleans was still in the game until the final minute, before Ron Artest drained a three-pointer to give Los Angeles a 10-point lead with 41 seconds remaining. Despite foul trouble to both starting bigs and subpar offensive performances by various Hornets (who shot just 39 percent from the field), the visitors continued to scratch and claw. Chris Paul twice made three-pointers at the end of quarters to cut the Lakers lead to mid-single digits, but the Hornets could never quite put together enough possessions to make the leap from in-the-game to in-the-lead.
A review of Game 2 individually for the Hornets:
Chris Paul: After a 33-point, 14-assist Game 1, those numbers were 20 and nine, but the latter stat was a direct result of the Hornets not shooting nearly as well this time. One unusual development for the stellar free-throw shooter was his 8-for-12 day from the foul line, including consecutive misses in the fourth quarter. His deep shooting was invaluable though, with a pair of momentum-changing treys.
Marco Belinelli: I mentioned in our afternoon live chat that there was a good chance his open shooting would be an X-factor in this game. Unfortunately he was 2-for-9 from the floor, including 0-for-3 from three-point range. As a result, his minutes dipped from 30 in Game 1 to 22 tonight.
Trevor Ariza: As TNTs Reggie Miller said on air, the Los Angeles native was fantastic on both ends of the floor. Coming off a 2-for-13 shooting performance, Ariza led NOLA with 22 points on 8-for-15. His defense was just as noteworthy, as he spearheaded the effort to hold Kobe Bryant to just 11 points.
Carl Landry: Started in strong fashion with 10 first-half points, but foul trouble eventually severely curtailed his impact. He picked up his fourth foul with 3:53 left in the third quarter, sending him to the bench during a pivotal stretch. The power forward tacked on just two points in the second half and went 4-for-12 from the field. Like multiple players for both teams, he struggled to finish shots in the paint.
Emeka Okafor: Hard to believe, but it was almost a carbon copy of Game 1, with foul trouble again making it impossible for the 6-foot-10 center to deliver his normal level of interior production. Okafor finished with seven points and five rebounds, but the scoring was a bit misleading because all of his points came in the fourth quarter.
Aaron Gray: Three days after sustaining a sprained ankle he described as nasty-looking when he saw it on replay, the 7-footer couldnt repeat the tremendous outing he had Sunday, this time totaling two points and eight rebounds in 23 minutes. On the negative side, he was 0-for-2 from the foul line and had three turnovers.
Jarrett Jack: Had one nice stretch in the second quarter when he drilled back-to-back jumpers, but like the bench in general, made a larger difference in Game 1. The backup point guard netted six points in 27 minutes.
Jason Smith: A quiet eight minutes of action, with one rebound and a missed jumper.
Willie Green: After coming through with big late baskets in the Game 1 victory, had a couple costly turnovers in the fourth quarter. He was 2-for-6 from the field and scored six points, all in the first three quarters.
D.J. Mbenga: Only played three minutes, but contributed on defense with a blocked shot and a steal.
For complete postgame quotes, click here.