Chris Paul, or CP3 as many call him, is a basketball machine, and when he gets programming he cannot be stopped. Paul showed the basketball world today, that even when a team is mismatched, or in general worse then the team they are playing, if their best player is ON, they can beat any team.
The Hornets, a team lucky to even make the playoffs, after a shaky end to the season, couldn't believe they just beat the two time defending champs in game one. Paul after the game said "I know for us, we didn’t finish the season as strong as we would’ve liked to, so in all of our practices we were focusing on us. We’re not good enough to judge who we want to play. We just had to make sure we would be ready no matter who it was. And that’s the thing about our team, since day one everyone has had a chip on their shoulder. We lost [David West], we’ve just been through all different kinds of circumstances".
It wasn't even the fact that the Lakers played bad. They put up 100 points in front of a very loud home crowd, and Kobe Bryant even had 34 points. Overall the team shot 46% from the team, and even out rebounded the Hornets 41-33.
The Lakers simply got out-hustled by this New Orleans team. Led by CP3, who has led the NBA in steals almost every year he has been in the league, the Hornets had more steals, more forced turnovers, and less fouls then the Lakers.
Chris Paul dazzled the Los Angeles Lakers, putting up 33 points, 16 assists, and even grabbing seven rebounds. Of course, he also collected four steals as well. Overall shooting he was 11-18 from the field, including 2-3 from downtown. He was very efficient from the free throw line (9-12) which was important down the stretch, icing the game. One huge stat for Paul though was that he only had two turnovers, making his assist to turnover ratio 7:1.
The Los Angeles Lakers big men, just could not take advantage of the undersized Hornets. With all-star David West out for the Hornets, they had to go deep into their roster even creating time for former Laker D.J. Mbenga to get some minutes.
The Hornets pulled to an early lead, in the first quarter, increased the lead eight at halftime, and never looked back. The Lakers tried to make a run late in the third and fourth quarters, but just as the game got close, Paul took over the game.
Paul got a lot of help, from a lesser known Hornets bench. Aaron Gray, a former Purdue big man attributed 12 points, and was 5-5 from the field. Jarrett Jack was 5-6 from the field and had 15 points. While Emeka Okafor played limited minutes and eventually fouled out, it was Carl Landry, another former Purdue big man, who helped out Paul the most. Landry scored 17 points on 6-13 shooting and was perfect from the line. In addition he grabbed five rebounds.
Paul was very proud of his bench after the game and was quoted saying, "It was very important. That’s why we were able to win this game. AG [Aaron Gray] was outstanding, just his presence on the boys, not really letting those guys get deep post positions. [Jarrett Jack], he’s been outstanding after All-Star break, leading our team, he was good for us tonight."
The Lakers look to rebound, in game two. The game will also be played in the Staples Center. Kobe Bryant said that in order to win games, the team needs to find the energy they had in previous playoffs runs. The Hornets are a good team, but the Lakers definitely have the skill and ability to knock them off.