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Friday, April 22, 2011

Lakers target Paul, get Game 2 victory


LOS ANGELES — Kobe Bryant barely made a ripple on offense for the Los Angeles Lakers. He was too busy ensuring Chris Paul didn't make another huge splash that could have put the Lakers in a cavernous playoff hole.

News photo
Heading for the lane: Kobe Bryant of the Lakers drives past New Orleans' Trevor Ariza in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series on Wednesday night. The Lakers won 87-78 to tie the series 1-1. AP PHOTO

Andrew Bynum had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Lamar Odom scored 16 points, and the Lakers survived quiet offensive games from their two biggest stars to even their first-round playoff series with an 87-78 victory over the New Orleans Hornets in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Ron Artest added 15 points as the two-time defending champions rebounded from a stunning nine-point loss in the series opener with Bryant leading an improved defensive effort against Paul, who still had 20 points and nine assists after shredding Los Angeles' defense in Game 1.

"We stayed in front of him for the most part," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He made some big plays for them . . . but I think we did a better job being attentive to him, and that's as good as it gets right now."

Los Angeles spent the past two days scheming ways to prevent a repeat of Paul's 33-point, 14-assist dissection of their defense in Game 1. Bryant's snarling intensity was obvious when he took his turn guarding Paul, jumping on him with full-court pressure and even battling him for inconsequential inbound passes midway through the game.

"We had a good rhythm today," Bryant said. "We found something we can hang our hats on in terms of the intensity and the aggression that we played with. Going up to New Orleans, I think that environment will bring it out."

Game 3 is Friday night in New Orleans.

Trevor Ariza scored 22 points for the Hornets, who committed 16 turnovers after making just three in Game 1.

Spurs 93, Grizzlies 87

In San Antonio, Manu Ginobili scored 17 points in the All-Star's return after missing Game 1 with an elbow sprain, and the Spurs beat Memphis to even the first-round series. 1-1.

Ginobili wore a thick sleeve to protect his right elbow but played as physically reckless as usual.

Sam Young had 17 points for the Grizzlies, who opened the series with their first franchise playoff win.

Tim Duncan had 16 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio. George Hill and Richard Jefferson added 16 apiece.

Zach Randolph scored 11 points on 5-of-14 shooting and Marc Gasol had 12 points, and 17 rebounds for Memphis.

Thunder 106, Nuggets 89

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 23 points, Russell Westbrook added 21 and the Thunder built a big first-half lead on the way to a victory over Denver in Game 2 on Wednesday.

The first-round playoff series shifts to Denver on Saturday night with Oklahoma City leading 2-0.

Ty Lawson scored 20 points to lead the Nuggets.

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