More discussing the games with Ezra of The Purple & Gold Blog!
Don: Now that... was better.
Really happy with the way LA played there. Sure, there were a few things I'd like to change or see work better - but it is what it is.
I also thought that LA did a pretty good job of defending Chris Paul, but the guy STILL got 20/12! He truly is an amazing player.
Some good solid production from the starters, and Odom was pretty good - if surprisingly inefficient shooting. Shannon Brown could step up a bit... Steve Blake too. Matt Barnes was good with the time on the floor.
I felt the game was won on the boards, where LA completely DESTROYED Nawleans, 42 rebounds to 25. Andrew Bynum... sheesh, at times he looked completely in beast-mode out there. Amazingly tho', I think he has a few more gears to go.
All in all, very happy. Hopeful that LA'll close this out in NOLA, and that the Dallas/Portland affair will drag out a bit longer!
Ezra: Yup! This is why I've always liked Chris Paul over any other PG out there. This guy's attitude is that of a winner. I don't think any other point guard can carry this Hornets team any better than he's done this season and during this series.
That monster dunk by Kobe Bryant over Emeka Okafor pretty much simplifies what the Lakers have been lacking for weeks...that "we're going to do whatever we want to do and there's absolutely nothing you can do to stop us" kind of demeanor. When (and if) the Lakers finally do get it together, I don't see any team getting passed them in any round and in the Finals.
Nawleans should be done on Friday. I think the Lakers have paid their dues in this series and are sick and tired of seeing CP3.
Don: Your point on when/if is important. IF LA can step it up, and be the team they were post the All Star break, then there's a very, very good chance Phil retires with #12.
Still... that's a long time away in a hopeful future. And this year, the road's tougher than it's ever been. The Lakers will need Andrew Bynum to step it up in a very big way, to consistently play the way he's shown glimpses of. Pau Gasol has to go into his baddest, roaring incarnation. Kobe... needs to pick his moments - much like he did in game 5. And Odom needs to be the guy who won 6th man of the year. Artest... well, if he keeps going the way he is now - then that's great. If he steps it up a notch or two, even better.
Need the bench to show, and Fish needs to justify his existence out there.
I REALLY want them to close out next game, I think the opportunity to rest (I still see Dallas/Portland going longer) is incredibly important. Let's see what Game 6 brings...
Ezra: Absolutely! And I do think the Lakers are aware of the importance of closing out the Hornets in Game 6. But I'm most interested in how Monty Williams adjusts his P&R with Chris Paul and how the Lakers make an in-game counter on that.
The two guys I'm most concerned about are Shannon Brown and Pau Gasol. Brown was the key in that 3rd qtr. comeback when he hit those two consecutive treys before that game-changing dunk by Kobe over Okafor. Shannon always had the heart for the game but he needs to learn to read situations and matchups better. As for Pau, I really hope that Kobe dunk also shook his rattle for good. It certainly got him going in the second half of Game 5, so I hope that was a permanent wake-up call for him and the rest of the Lakers.
But as you said, there's still a long road ahead.