Heading into their first round Western Conference Playoff series against the New Orleans Hornets; the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to roll through the series possibly even sweeping their opponent. Four games into the battle between the two clubs things have worked out quite differently as the Hornets defeated the higher seeded Lakers on Sunday by a final margin of 93-88 knotting the series up at 2-2. New Orleans starting point guard Chris Paul recorded a triple-double in the contest including a game high 27 points in front of his home crowd. Kobe Bryant scored 17 points while Paul Gasol and Ron Artest each added 16 points in the loss.
It would be Los Angeles who would be on top at the conclusion of the first as Shannon Brown knocked down a mid-range shot with 47 seconds remaining in the period making it a 25-22 contest. The Lakers would hold the advantage for much of the second but momentum would swing to the Hornets down the stretch. Emeka Okafor unleashed a mid-range jumper with one second to play and New Orleans would hold the upper hand at 49-45 as the game reached the half.
The Hornets still held the lead at the end of the third but it was by a very narrow margin as Bryant drained a pair at the line with six seconds left in the period. New Orleans advantage was just 69-67 heading into the fourth. Brown would tie the game at 69-69 with the first shot of the period but the Hornets quickly buzzed ahead. The Lakers got to within two points of their hosts in the closing minutes of the game but were never able to bridge the gap and New Orleans held on for the win.
CP-3 racked up a triple-double with 27 points, 15 assists, 13 rebounds and had 2 steals in the Hornets victory. Trevor Ariza knocked down 19 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists while Carl Landry added 16 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal.
Bryant had 17 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 1 steal in the loss for the Lakers. Gasol put up 16 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, 3 blocks and a steal while Artest also had 16 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Andrew Bynum added 11 while Derek Fisher chipped in 10 points in the game. The best of seven series now deadlocked at 2-2 moves back to Los Angeles for game five which will be played Tuesday.