New Orleans guard Chris Paul, left, tries to drive on Lakers guard Kobe Bryant… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
It was a tough night that became a tougher morning for Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons, and it was all caused by New Orleans Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul.
"I couldn't sleep Saturday night and I woke up Sunday morning out of a restless sleep and the entire time I was thinking about 'CP' and screen-and-rolls," Cleamons said after practice Tuesday.
And how did Cleamons sleep Sunday night after Paul ripped into the Lakers for 33 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds in the Hornets' 109-100 victory in Game 1 of a Western Conference first-round playoff series?
"I still couldn't sleep," Cleamons said, laughing.
So the theme for the Lakers in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series Wednesday night at Staples Center is pretty simple.
"What we have to do is stop that Chris Paul dude," Cleamons said, now smiling.
And, Cleamons readily admitted, that's no easy task.
Cleamons is in charge of putting together the game plan against the Hornets because they were one of the teams he scouted during the regular season.
He broke down the keys for the Lakers into three categories:
Slow Chris Paul
Cleamons was on the Hornets' staff as an assistant coach when New Orleans drafted Paul in 2005, and they spent a year working together.
"We've got to make adjustments, but Chris is going to make adjustments too," Cleamons said. "He probably has seen almost every coverage, so you've just got to make him work a little bit harder."
Look for the Lakers to disguise their coverages against Paul. Cleamons said at times they may trap Paul, push him farther out on the court and switch defenders on him.
"I don't think we can play the same way the entire game," Cleamons said.
Limit Lakers turnovers
Cleamons said the Lakers have to take care of the basketball. They had only 13 turnovers Sunday, but five came in the first quarter.
Cleamons noted that the Hornets are a low-turnover team and that they run off loose balls, long rebounds and turnovers.
"They are an optimistic basketball team," Cleamons said. "But they are very effective in what they do."
Cleamons said he wants the Lakers to run and trust the triangle offense.
By running the offense, Cleamons said they have better floor balance that allows rebounders to get good position under the boards and the players on the perimeter to get back so the Hornets don't fastbreak.
"You may not make your shots," Cleamons said, "but you need shot attempts."