After five playoff games against the two-time defending champion Lakers, New Orleans Hornets center Emeka Okafor still is struggling to find his way. Okafor, listed at 6 feet 10, has been hindered by foul problems and has struggled to make an impact against 7-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. And in Tuesday night's Game 5, Lakers star Kobe Bryant drove the lane and made a thunderous dunk over him that sparked the Lakers to a 106-90 victory and 3-2 series lead. "As far as matchups, it's difficult,'' said Okafor, who has averaged 7.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in his first playoff series. "They have a lot of size, strength and skill. You know Kobe is going to play, no matter what, even if has to be out there on one leg.'' Playing with a sprained left ankle, Bryant finished with 19 points. However, the Lakers' rebounding and scoring in the post — against Okafor, Carl Landry (eight points, four rebounds) and backup center Aaron Gray (no points, six rebounds) — hurt the Hornets the most. The Hornets had only three offensive rebounds to the Lakers' 15. The Lakers outrebounded the Hornets 42-25 and outscored them 22-2 on second-chance points. Los Angeles also had a 42-30 scoring advantage in the lane. Okafor was held to five points and five rebounds, only one offensive, in 37 minutes. He has scored less than 10 points in four of the five games in the series. Okafor's only breakout performance came in Game 3, when he scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but the Hornets lost 100-86.
Emeka Okafor's struggles continue against Lakers
New Orleans Times-Picayune | Apr 28