Let's break down what the Lakers should strive for in game two:
- Intensity on both ends. The Lakers have to play like they want it. They are the most talented, deep squad when all five guys on the court are committed. Getting back on defense should not be something you do at your own pace. They have to run, force the Hornets to slow it down and face the size of their defense. Guys need to run even when a fastbreak looks like a sure thing, what if the guy chokes and the Hornets run it back in your face? Offensive boards should happen repeatedly and oddly enough LAL was +8 on the boards in game one. They need to continue that trend, win the 50-50 balls, show grit and never give up on plays.
- Pick and Roll defense. Before I try and go in depth about what the Lakers did wrong, I strongly suggest you check out NBA Playbook's work on this. A key stat from the article, "the Hornets scored 29 points on 20 possessions with Paul as the ball handler in the pick and roll, good for a PPP (points per possession) 1.45." To keep it simple, the Hornets were lights out on pick and rolls, which mostly featured CP3 at the top of the key. The Lakers need to hope Paul is less accurate from mid-range and the rest of the Hornets aren't buzzing from three point land. Also, active defense on the P&R's will make a big difference. When Gasol was switched out on Paul, Paul was basically left to dance alone, because Gasol didn't want to let him drive. The Lakers need to play active defense, be disciplined in however they guard Paul off screens and hope fewer shots go down. The Hornets hit 67% of their corner three's and 71% on shots in the paint (according to NBA StatsCube). The Lakers must give the Hornets less opportunities in their sweet spots.
- Efficient offense. The Lakers had moments where the offense was good, but the offense got worse as the game went on. The majority of their shots came from mid-range and they tied paint shots for their worst percentages at 39% (again from NBA StatsCube). Kobe can't be the only one trying to score either! When the Lakers play a subpar game and are within striking distance at crunch time, Kobe tries to take over and do everything. While he's one of the few guys who can be effective at being the offense, that doesn't work everytime. Rather than relying on offensive heroics from Kobe, the Lakers should look for balance, execution and consistency to propel them a win tonight.
If the Lakers do those things, I see them winning tonight. Besides, will the Hornets bench light it up again and will Pau Gasol give ya nothing?