NBA Playoffs 2011: The LA Lakers Need More Pau Gasol, Less Chris Paul in Game 2

The Los Angeles Lakers lost Game 1 of their first-round playoff matchup against the New Orleans Hornets, 109-100, and the nine-point deficit just happens to be one more point than Lakers forward Pau Gasol managed to score all game.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said before the series started that his team should be able to use their size advantage to make quick work of the Hornets, but I'm assuming he thought Gasol would show up to play.

Gasol's eight-point performance must have been the most puzzling of all in a game that the Hornets were able to win based on the dominance of one player.

Hornets point guard Chris Paul's 33-point, 14-assist performance reminded people why Paul is still considered by some to be the NBA's top lead guard, and although he played brilliantly, the Lakers still could have won if Gasol would have decided to show up.

Paul is the only player on the Hornets roster that the Lakers should fear, and even though players like Landry Fields and Trevor Ariza stepped up big in Game 1, it was solely because of Paul's penetration and performance in the pick-and-roll offense.

Paul was responsible for more than 60 percent of the Hornets offense in Game 1, and if the Lakers want to erase the bad taste that loss left, they will need to cut that number in half.

It's a classic case of kill the head and the body will die, but the real question is, do the Lakers have anyone on the roster who is capable of answering that challenge?

Paul routinely used his quickness to blow past the slower Lakers defenders, and once he got into the lane, he usually faced little resistance at the rim from the Lakers big men.

Center Andrew Bynum was effective in the middle, but he was nowhere near as dominant defensively as he had been during the latter part of the regular season. Meanwhile, reserve forward Lamar Odom only managed to grab one rebound.

But Gasol's performance was ...

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