Kobe returned to Game 2 after suffering a hit on the head on a metal chair, essentially influencing the Staples Center staff to add cushions to all of the courtside seats. Kobe played more of a facilitative role the entire game with only 11 points, but he was swarming the Hornets players the entire night with suffocating defense.
Every time Pau Gasol touched the ball, the Staples Center crowd were buzzing and waiting for him to make an aggressive move. Even though Gasol did not remove his “soft” label by displaying yet another lackluster offensive performance, Bynum was able to pick up the slack by posting a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. Bynum not only scored effectively, but he also lived up to his 7,1” frame with an overpowering presence down in the paint.
A play that defines the effort of Gasol occurred in the first quarter when he threw a lazy pass to Bynum for a missed alley-oop. Gasol was pounded the entire night by every Hornet he posted-up against, having to earn half of his points on the stripe. Gasol once again failed to meet expectations as he struggled made only 2 for 10 on the field for a total of 20% on the night.
Luckily, Lamar Odom was also able to aid the struggling big man with a stellar performance. Odom proved that he deserved the Sixth-Man of the Year Award, the first Laker to ever receive the award, with 16 points and 7 rebounds. He started the game with 3 quick baskets in the first quarter and started the second half with impressive floaters and layups in the paint. Odom utilized his lengthy size against the smaller Hornets by extending his entire body through the pesky defense and capitalizing on open shots.
Playoff basketball finally arrived to Staples Center in the second half with a series of offensive fouls on both ends. Gasol and Landry showed their emotions in the second half as they bickered and shoved each other down the court, influencing their teammates to do the same on later plays. Barnes also joined in on the fun by getting a flagrant foul for swatting across Ariza’s head as he went for a layup. Emotions were certainly flying high Wednesday night as a combined 6 players had more than 4 fouls for the game.
With less than a minute left in regulation, the Staples Center crowd rose to their feet as they knew 2 things: 1) They would leave the game with a coupon for 2 complimentary tacos from Jack in the Box and 2) The Lakers were on their way to New Orleans with the series tied 1-1.