NEW ORLEANS — Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, but said he could play better after the Lakers took a 2-1 series lead tonight over the New Orleans Hornets. Pau Gasol added 17 points and 10 rebounds, bouncing back from a cold that knocked him off his game in the first two games of the series. Andrew Bynum scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Chris Paul led the Hornets with 22 points, including 18 in the first half.
“I just went out there and played my game,” Bryant said. “I’m a scorer first. Pau helped open things up. It’s funny because he missed a lot of shots close to the rim and then he knocked down a 3-point shot. That seemed to get him going. But it makes a big difference for us when he’s able to score in the paint.”
Lakers coach Phil Jackson had this to say about Gasol: “He’s just too good a basketball player. He can shoot the basketball. He can handle the ball. He can do a lot of things. It’s just a matter of him finding a comfort zone out there. I didn’t expect him to find it out on the 3-point line, but we’re not surprised when he makes those shots.”
Game 4 is Sunday night in New Orleans.