April 17, 2011: The Los Angeles Lakers huddle before playing the New Orleans Hornets in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
After a pretty darn ugly Game 1 loss, there was not a lot of panic in Hollywood.
We've all seen this movie before.
For the past three years, the Lakers have played one or two terrible games with sloppy execution and lazy effort. Then they'd flip the switch and play like champions and go win the series.
So we all expect it again in Game 2 on Wednesday night at the Staples Center against New Orleans. Game 1 could not have been uglier. So now the Lakers are going to come out, get the ball inside to Pau Gasol early and often, defend the pick-and-roll better and just flat out execute their game plan in a way they did not in Game 1.
But know this -- the Hornets will not just roll over. Chris Paul is a beast, arguably the best point guard in the game. He shredded the Lakers defense like it was made of wet paper. The Hornets pick-and-roll, in general, eviscerated the Lakers -- Derek Fisher was slow fighting over the top of picks and Paul pulled the Laker big men (Gasol and Andrew Bynum) away to isolate them. They can't cover him in space (he's far too quick) and the result was easy buckets and passes to open teammates.
The Lakers bench was embarrassed last game -- New Orleans bench players shot 73 percent on their way to 39 points. That has to change. So does the Lakers protecting the paint, as the Hornets shot a comfortable 59 percent inside 10 feet. The Hornets had just three turnovers; the Lakers have to create more.
All of those things, that's simply the Lakers focusing and executing on defense like they can. Like they did on the 17-1 run following the All-Star break.
After that run, the Lakers took a little nap at the end of the season, slipping into the playoffs. They pretty much hit the snooze bar and slept through Game 1, too.
Now that alarm had better go off and the Lakers had better wake up and defend the pick-and-roll better. They better pound the ball inside to their big men. Or else this nap could lead to the Lakers getting a lot more time to sleep in very soon.