Sports

L.A. bounces back big

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant puts up a shot during Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the New Orleans Hornets, Wednesday, April 20, 2011, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant puts up a shot during Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the New Orleans Hornets, Wednesday, April 20, 2011, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill) AP

LOS ANGELES — Andrew Bynum had 17 points and 11 rebounds, Lamar Odom scored 16 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers survived poor 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 an improved defensive effort against Chris Paul, who still had 20 points and nine assists after shredding Los Angeles’ defense in Game 1.

With Odom’s outstanding performance leading strong bench play, the Lakers overcame the struggles of All-Stars Kobe Bryant, who managed just 11 points, and Pau Gasol, who had eight.

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.

The second-seeded Lakers nursed a small lead throughout the second half largely thanks to Odom, who was in top form in his first game since winning the NBA’s Sixth Man award on Tuesday. After Bynum scored 12 points in the first half, Odom drove the Lakers’ offense down the stretch.

But the seventh-seeded Hornets finally resembled a team missing top scorer David West, struggling for consistent offense for much of the game in front of an energized Staples Center crowd. Carl Landry scored 12 points, and Emeka Okafor had seven points while battling constant foul trouble that forced backup center Aaron Gray to play 23 minutes despite a sprained right ankle.

Bryant apparently concentrated most of his efforts on containing Paul, managing just one field goal in the first half and only reaching double figures on a dramatic dunk with 3:39 to play. Gasol foundered for the second straight game against the smallish Hornets, making just 2 of 10 shots.

The Lakers spent the past two days scheming ways to prevent Paul’s 33-point, 14-assist dissection of their defense in Game 1. They alternated several defenders on Paul from the opening tip, but Bryant’s snarling full-court pressure made the biggest impression.

The Lakers didn’t exactly stop the four-time All-Star, who had nine points and five assists in the first half, yet they managed to limit his effectiveness on the pick-and-roll plays that hurt them in the opener.

Los Angeles got little offense from Bryant and Gasol early, but Bynum was remarkably active on both ends, scoring 12 points in the first half despite his sore right knee.

The Lakers also got a boost during a 14-2 second-quarter run from a bench that barely impacted Game 1, with backup point guard Steve Blake returning from a weeklong bout of chicken pox to rack up five assists in 6 minutes.

After New Orleans committed an NBA playoff record-low three turnovers in Game 1, the Hornets had that many in the first quarter alone, and 10 by halftime. No longer playing a near-perfect game, the Hornets relied on balanced scoring to keep pace, trailing 47-41 at halftime after Paul’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

Paul hit another buzzer-beating 3 to end the third quarter, trimming the Lakers’ lead to seven points even though New Orleans managed just 15 points in the period.

NOTES: Bynum fouled out with 12.6 seconds left. ... During the second quarter, the Lakers premiered a public service announcement asking for tolerance from fans. The PSA is a response to Bryant’s use of an anti-gay slur during a game last week.

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