The Los Angeles Lakers cracked back against the Chris Paul insurgence on Tuesday, retaking a series lead over the New Orleans Hornets in the teams' surprisingly competitive first-round battle. Paul has rattled the Lakers throughout, but Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum dominated New Orleans' front line in Game 5, and should keep their huge advantage in Thursday's Game 6 (8 p.m. ET, TNT).
But that hasn't been a given in this series, with the Hornets' excellent defense making up for a remarkable size deficit. And we've learned (or re-learned, as it were) that through Chris Paul, all things are possible. That's what maintains hope for the Hornets, and what must haunt the Lakers until the deed is finished.
Kobe Bryant played through a reported ankle sprain in Game 5, having two ear-splitting dunks and giving L.A. all the spark they needed in the second quarter after coming out of the gate slowly. He's had a strong series, averaging 22 points per game on average efficiency despite being guarded by New Orleans' designated stopper, Trevor Ariza. Whether Ariza can goad Kobe into one of his famous inefficient nights in N.O. on Thursday remains to be seen; don't rule it out.