The thinking heading into the Los Angeles Lakers series against the New Orleans Hornets in the 2011 NBA Playoffs was that L.A. could have real success when New Orleans had to turn to its bench, a shaky unit with little in the way of consistency. In particular, when star Chris Paul was off the floor, the Lakers' superior talent and depth could take over.
But surprisingly, especially considering Paul's dominance in the first five games of the series, the Lakers won Thursday night's clincher in New Orleans with CP3 on the court. Two runs set L.A. apart in the game: a 14-4 run in the second quarter to give the champs a 40-31 lead, and a 12-2 run in the third to re-establish a 13-point lead. Paul was on the court for every second of those runs.
Frankly, the Hornets exceeded expectations by being in the series, giving the vast talent deficit beyond Paul and given that David West didn't play. This series was a monument to Paul's special ability and Monty Williams' smart defensive style (and the presence of a couple of excellent defenders in Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor).