Sat, April 23, 2011
Sports > Basketball

Lakers take 2-1 series lead with win over Hornets(2)

2011-04-23 09:44:00 GMT2011-04-23 17:44:00(Beijing Time)

Los Angeles Lakers forward Pau Gasol, of Spain, (16) drives against New Orleans Hornets center Emeka Okafor during the first half of Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series in New Orleans, Friday, April 22, 2011.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

It was Bryant's 80th playoff game with at least 30 points, second on the all-time list behind Michael Jordan's 109.

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 his momentum-changing 3 that made it 78-70 early in the fourth quarter.

"I was open, so I shot it," Gasol said. "It was a good shot."

Soon after, Gasol added 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.

While the Lakers made defensive adjustments to keep the ball away from Paul, the Hornets' All-Star guard said, "I blame myself because I don't care if they deny."

"I can't let them do that," Paul continued. "I've got to get my shots. I've got to be more aggressive and not allow them to take me out."

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, which Paul described as "definitely a must-win," 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.

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.

"They are probably a lot bigger than we are but the rebounding to a degree is about attitude," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "We just have to believe we can get those rebounds."

NOTES: During the last two games, Hornets reserves have gone 9 of 34 from the field for 22 points. ... 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 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.


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