In what became the Year of Derrick Rose, New Orleans’ superstar point guard has beenan afterthought. Languishing on a small-market team devoid of other All-Stars, Chris Paul is grabbing attention back this postseason by keeping his seventh-seeded team incontention with the juggernaut Lakers.
Paul put up a triple-double last night in a win that leveled New Orleans series with Los Angeles at two games apiece. The game was close, but it really could have been a blowout. Paul time and again found wide-open teammates who proceeded to miss jumpers. Marco Belinelli went 3-for-11 from the field. Jarrett Jack hit only one of his six shot attempts. New Orleans shot under 30 percent from the three-point line. The Hornets still won.
Should the Lakers be legitimately worried? Probably not. Last night’s game had the feel of the Hornets just trying their best to fight off the Lakers’ tidal wave of size and interior scoring as the clock wore down. There continue to be moments when L.A. is simply unstoppable on offense when Pau Gasol gets it going in the paint. But through the first four games of this series, Chris Paul has proven to be the worst kind of matchup for Los Angeles — who have proven vulnerable to quick, penetrating point guards. And for all that Derrick Rose has accomplished this year in Chicago, Chris Paul may still stand head and shoulders above his competition.