|Written by Michael Patrick|
Bet on the NBAConcern # 1: Kobe Bryant's ankle injury! This has got to be Phil Jackson's most prominent concern tonight.
Bryant refused to have any X-rays done on the ankle, so there is really no way of knowing how bad it really is. Nobody has any idea how he will be come game time. It is entirely possible that his play may be limited or maybe even cut entirely. The one positive is Bryant's toughness. He has played through numerous serious injuries throughout his career, and tonight is no different. He knows how to step up his play in spite of any injury. Even though he is older and probably will not heal as quickly, I would not bet on him sitting the bench in an important game like tonights.
Concern # 2: The Lakers have lacked an inside presence in this series! The Lakers defend the post as well as take away the drive most effectively when Andrew Bynum is in the game. However, they are better on the other end of the floor when Gasol and Odom are on the floor together. With Gasol struggling this series, we might see alittle more of Odom and Bynum together for the Lakers. The fact that they have been outplayed in the post by the Hornets is truly inexcusable no matter what line-up the Lakers have on the floor. The Hornets should not be out rebounding the Lakers, and they definitely should not be locking up to all-stars like Odom and Gasol. The two have struggled to even get shots consistently all series.
Concern # 3: The Lakers must contain Chris Paul! With Kobe's ankle injury, it is unlikely that he will be expending all, if any, energy defending the Hornets point guard. Instead, the Lakers will have to defend the all-star by committee. Taking away some the things he does with a lot of help from numerous players. They will need to make this their focus because this series has seen paul take over a game to the point of victory and that cannot happen tonight.