Despite losing in Game 1, there's a calm sense among Lakers fans and the team that Game 2 will see them get back on track
Maybe it was the Sunday whites. Maybe it was too much Chris Paul. Maybe Pau Gasol forgot what time the game started.
Either way, the Lakers are starting at a 0-1 playoff deficit for the first time in two years. And there’s nothing more dangerous than giving an underdog hope on the road while putting a slight worry into your fans.
Yet most fans aren't ready to flip the panic switch. They’ve seen this team ebb and flow and know (hope?) that Sunday was an aberration, not a foreshadowing of things to come.
Here’s six reasons why Lakers Nation are hoping for things to turn around in Game 2 Wednesday.
Pau Gasol deserves plenty of blame for his pitiful Game 1 performance, a career-low eight points on nine shots with six rebounds. It was a disappearing act that Lakers fans have seen and never settled for. But the good thing is that the last two times Gasol scored under 10 points in the playoffs, he responded with a double-double. Safe to assume that he’ll be back to All-Star level in Game 2
With 12 points, Gray was the surprise of Game 1 as his play off the bench helped spark the Hornets. But after suffering a sore right ankle near the end of the game, his status for Game 2 is in doubt. If he's not at full strength, it’s one less concern for the Lakers frontcourt looking to regain their advantage.
Thought to be out for the first round due to the chicken pox, Blake will play in Game 2 after practicing with the team Tuesday. While he’s not a defensive stopper, he’ll provide an extra emotional lift with his shooting and toughness while making sure that Derek Fisher won’t exceed his age in minutes played.
The Lakers have had wake up calls before due to lackluster play. Two years ago, they lost to Houston in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals and struggled with Denver in the conference Finals. Last year, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and Boston pushed them to an extra gear to avoid defeat. Each time, the Lakers did what they had to do when they had to do it. Granted this team has been sleepwalking the last eight games, but a fresh slap of playoff water should finally wake them up just like it has the last two seasons.
The Lakers had two days to rest and study how New Orleans shot 51% (their reserves alone shot 16-22 from the field). In the playoffs, rest between games is crucial for adjustments and few are better at that than Phil Jackson. The more time he has to prepare, the more he'll make sure a repeat of Game 1 won't happen. Lakers fans can not only expect the Hornets to not shoot that well in Game 2 but a greater focus on making Chris Paul work harder to set his teammates up.
The ultimate trump card. As long as the Black Mamba is on the court, the Lakers will have more than a fighting chance to get revenge Wednesday. Expect Kobe to go into distributor mode early to help Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum get going while digging into his usual bag of tricks to help the Lakers even the series.