2011 NBA Playoffs: Is Game 4 Victory the Beginning of the End for the Hornets?

Chris Paul may have just awoken a sleeping giant.

With the New Orleans Hornets 93-88 defeat of the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night, Chris Paul and company will head into Game 5 assured of one thing: They have gotten under the Lakers' skin in a very real way. This is not an achievement that should be taken lightly, for reasons both good and bad for Hornets fans.

It is not easy to tick off the Lakers. Kobe Bryant may be an irritable, fiery a competitor as he is. But the Lakers? Jackson? Gasol? Fischer? Those guys don’t rattle. They don’t panic, and they certainly aren’t panicking now.

But they’re taking the Hornets much more seriously than they were a week ago.

For Kobe Bryant, Chris Paul’s relentless—and borderline historic—exploitation of Los Angeles’ greatest area of weakness must come as a slap in the face—a direct shot across the bow from one generation to another.

Even fighting through a knee injury, Paul has managed to pick the Lakers’ defense apart more thoroughly than a dog obsessively gnawing on a bone. His domination of Los Angeles has been Kobe-esque in its totality.

If Kobe and Co. were planning on cruising through the first round, perhaps reserving energies for future opponents, plans have certainly changed. In the remaining first-round games, the Hornets will get everything the Lakers have. Fouls will be harder. Intensity will be ratcheted up. Entering the winning time of the NBA playoffs, where fates are decided, the Hornets are entering the Lakers world.

For the Lakers, last night’s loss must come as a wake-up call of mammoth proportions. The Hornets will now have their undivided attention.

Historically, an angry and motivated Lakers team is a very bad thing for opponents. Less experienced teams are often unable to match the experience, size, clutch shot-making and intangibles that Los Ange...

About the Author