The Hornets couldn’t have been a better matchup for the Lakers and this advantage will have them well-rested for a second-round date with Portland or Dallas. The Hornets suffered a major blow with the injury to David West and, quite frankly, it took away any hopes of having a magical run after a great start to the season.
The Hornets couldn’t break 100 against the Lakers in four tries during the regular season and I am hard pressed to see them hold the Lakers below 100 to get a victory.
Chris Paul averaged 15 points and 10 assists in the season series. They will need him him to get 25 and 15 to have a chance.
Carl Landry, who replaced West, is not chopped liver, but I don’t believe he can score consistently over that Lakers’ length.
The Lakers are finally where they wanted to be – done with the season and gearing up for the playoffs. I would not be surprised to see 20-point blowouts in the first two games. Kobe Bryant normally takes out his frustration on opposing teams and he can’t be happy to be $100,000 lighter for his verbal rant at referee Bennie Adams.
Andrew Bynum probably will not play much in this series and I would not be surprised if they held him out totally so he gets healthy for the second round.
Lakers will win if…
– Kobe comes out determined to end this series quickly.
– Pau Gasol gets many touches against the undersized Carl Landry.
– Control Chris Paul and keep him away from huge scoring and assist games.
Hornets will win if…
– Carl Landry outplays Gasol and Bynum is ineffective because of injury.
– The Hornets’ bench outscores the Lakers’ reserves by 25 to 30 points per game.
– Emeka Okafor turns into Bill Russell.
– This series will get ugly quickly. Los Angeles Lakers 4, New Orleans 0.
SCHEDULE: April 17, April 20, April 22, April 24, April 26, April 28 and April 30 / Lakers won the regular season series 4-0.