Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant scored just 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting in Game 2 on April 20, but that was all No. 2 seed Los Angeles would need from him as they stopped the No. 7 seed New Orleans Hornets from stealing another key road victory in the NBA Western Conference Playoffs First Round.
Star forward Pau Gasol also struggled offensively, scoring just 8 points with 5 rebounds in the Lakers‚ 87-78 win in at the Staples Center. But L.A.‚s tough defense and a physical inside offensive attack made up for the lack of points from its primary scorers. Center Andrew Bynum led L.A. with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds, while veteran forward Ron Artest followed with 15 points, six rebounds and two steals. Lamar Odom ripped the Hornets from off the bench with 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting along with 7 rebounds.
“It shows experience and maturity,” Odom said of the Lakers‚ ability to win even when their best players are struggling. “It shows how we’ve got better, how the team has grown. It was important for all of us to improve and make an impact.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said the key to winning Game 2 was defending Hornets star point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 20 points and nine assists. Paul had scored 33 points and 14 assists in a victory in Game 1.
“We stayed in front of him for the most part,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said during the post game press conference. “He made some big plays for them … but I think we did a better job being attentive to him, and that’s as good as it gets right now.”
The best-of-seven series is now tied 1-1. Game 3 will tip off in New Orleans on Friday night April 22 at 9:30 p.m.