By Manila Bulletin
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol snapped out of his playoff funk with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers took control of their first-round playoff series with a 100-86 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Friday night.
Andrew Bynum added 14 points and 11 rebounds and Lamar Odom had 13 points for the two-time defending champs, who took the lead for good when Ron Artest made a layup as he was fouled to make it 13-10.
The victory gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, with Game 4 in New Orleans on Sunday.
Chris Paul had 22 points and eight assist for the Hornets, who managed to stay within single digits for long stretches of the game but never truly threatened to take the lead.
Bryant’s intensity was evident from the opening minutes when he violently rejected Carl Landry’s attempted close-range shot out of bounds and soon after he cut into the lane for a vicious one-handed jam.
Hornets fans’ attempts at booing or heckling him only seemed to help him focus. Hitting on his typical array of demoralizing 3s and off balance jumpers off the glass, he had 15 points in the first half. He didn’t need to take the game over in the second because of Gasol’s emergence, which the Lakers thought was long overdue after he averaged only eight points, about 11 below his average, during the first two games of the series.