NOLA will try to regain momentum, even series

Saturday, April 23, 2011
By: Jim Eichenhofer,

Judging by some of the nationwide reaction Friday night to Game 3’s outcome, you might have thought this series was already over. Even though the Hornets only need to win Sunday to square the series back up at two games apiece. Even though they’ve already shown that they can win on the Lakers’ home floor, where they’ll be Tuesday for Game 5.

“It’s 2-1,” said Chris Paul after Saturday’s practice in the New Orleans Arena, offering a reminder that the Hornets trail by only a game. “I think tomorrow is a game we really need to win. We have a great opportunity to play Game 4 here at home. That’s all that matters right now, Game 4 and how we approach that game. We showed good spurts in Game 3, but we have to be more consistent.”

“In my opinion, if we win Sunday, we gain the momentum back, and that’s what I’m trying to get across to our guys,” head coach Monty Williams said. “Don’t look at the numbers. Don’t look at what everybody else is saying. You’ve got to play hard to get that rhythm back. If you win Sunday, everything changes.”

Although it was expected that the Hornets’ defense against the Lakers might dictate the outcome of the series, it’s actually been the offense that’s served as a much more accurate barometer for winning and losing. New Orleans rolled to 109 points in its Game 1 victory, but has been held to just 78 and 86 in the past two defeats. Meanwhile, the Lakers have registered a pair of 100-point games, sandwiched around an 87-point output in Game 2.

The Hornets figure to need a much better shooting performance in Game 4, after going 2-for-13 from three-point range. That category was a decisive factor in Game 3, with the Lakers at 7-for-16, including a back-breaking Pau Gasol trey. Several players mentioned after Friday's defeat that the last thing they want to do is go down 3-1 against the two-time defending champions.

"It’s definitely a must-win," Paul said of Game 4. "(The Lakers) took homecourt back, but Sunday is a must-win. We need to win that game. We showed the ability to win (in) L.A., but we’ve got to take it one game at a time, and most of all, protect our homecourt and win that game Sunday."