NBA Playoffs 2011: Can Chris Paul Beat Kobe Bryant and the LA Lakers by Himself?

It's obviously clear what the Los Angeles Lakers need to do in order to prevail in their first round playoff series with the New Orleans Hornets, but apparently containing point guard Chris Paul is much more difficult than it seems.

Notice I said contain, because under no circumstances did I think the Lakers could stop Paul, but it's still possible to allow him to accumulate decent numbers and  beat the Hornets.

In Lakers wins in Games 2 and 3, Paul scored 20 and 22 points respectively and totaled 17 assists, eight rebounds and shot above 50 percent from the floor in each game.

But in the two games the Hornets have won Paul has 60 points, 29 assists and 20 rebounds while shooting more than 60 percent from the floor.

Those are PlayStation numbers and they illustrate the biggest dilemma facing the Lakers, because the only way that the Hornets can defeat them in this series is if Paul controls the entire rhythm of a game as he did in Games 1 and 4.

Paul will produce regardless of whom the Lakers decide to defend him with, but if you allow him to impact multiple areas of the game then the battle is lost.

New Orleans has no other players who can beat the Lakers and even Paul has to perform at the highest level just in order for his team to have a chance.

The question is does Paul have at least two more of those types of performances left in him?

The law of averages would say no since Paul's big games have occurred at a 50 percent rate with only three games left in the series. But if the Hornets can force the Lakers to a Game 7 then that type of thinking loses any resonance.

Anything can happen in a series deciding Game 7, and besides allowing the Hornets to grasp important momentum as the games shift back to Los Angeles tonight, there are a few other things the Lakers must consider.

Guard Kobe Bryant's sprained ankle was bad enough f...

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