|Hornets guard Chris Paul roughed up the Lakers’ defense, scoring 33 points in New Orleans’s upset of Los Angeles. (Mark Terrill/Associated Press)|
Chris Paul had 33 points, 14 assists, and 7 rebounds, flawlessly leading the Hornets down the stretch of a 109-100 victory over the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers yesterday in Game 1 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series in Los Angeles.
Paul scored 17 points in the fourth quarter and led a decisive 8-0 run after the Lakers trimmed New Orleans’s lead to 4 points. He repeatedly shredded Los Angeles’s defense on pick-and-roll plays.
“Our defense, I thought, was late,’’ Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I think we were late on everything. They were the aggressors, and they stayed aggressive . . . I think they respect the Hornets. I just don’t think they were keyed in on what they have to do.’’
The Lakers never grabbed a second-half lead despite another dynamite performance from Kobe Bryant, who scored 34 points. The most glaring problem was Pau Gasol, who struggled to 8 points — just 2 more than his season low — on 2-for-9 shooting with just six rebounds.
A few people in the Staples Center crowd pointedly heckled Gasol in the final minutes, while other fans booed as the Lakers streamed out of the building.
“I’m disappointed, yeah. Stunned, surprised,’’ Gasol said. “But we were the ones responsible for that to happen, so we have to own up to that and come back to work in the next couple of days and get the series where we want it to be.’’
Carl Landry scored 17 points and Jarrett Jack added 15 for the Hornets, and Ron Artest finished with 16 for the Lakers.
Thunder 107, Nuggets 103 — Kevin Durant scored 41 points, Russell Westbrook had two crucial late baskets among his 31 points, and host Oklahoma City pulled out a victory against Denver.
The Thunder leaned heavily on their two All-Stars, who both scored their most points in the postseason.
Westbrook had the go-ahead jumper from the right side with 1:06 left, as several Nuggets looked for it to be waved off with several hands near the rim eager for a tip-in. Kenyon Martin then missed a jumper from the left wing before Westbrook struck again to make it 104-101 with 22.4 seconds left.
Raymond Felton missed a potential tying 3-pointer with 12 seconds left and Oklahoma City closed it out at the foul line.
Nene led Denver with 22 points and eight rebounds, and Danilo Gallinari scored 18.
Grizzlies 101, Spurs 98 — Zach Randolph scored 9 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, and eighth-seeded Memphis won its first playoff game in franchise history, surprising host San Antonio.
Memphis trailed in the final minute when Shane Battier buried a 3-pointer with 23.9 seconds left, putting the Grizzlies ahead, 99-98. San Antonio had a chance to force overtime, but Richard Jefferson missed an open 3-pointer as time expired.
When the buzzer sounded, Memphis players spilled off the bench and celebrated the franchise’s first playoff win in 13 tries. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 20 points, but they sorely missed All-Star Manu Ginobili, who continued to rest his sprained right elbow.