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Bryant & Gasol lead Lakers to crucial win

Entering this postseason, there have been 175 instances in which a best-of-seven series was tied after two games. When the home team won Game 3, it went on to win the series 70.1 percent of the time. When the home team lost Game 3, it went on to win the series only 16.7 percent of the time. That being said, this Game 3 was crucial for the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Hornets.

In true superstar fashion, Kobe Bryant came to play and recorded his second 30-point game this series and 80th of his career. That’s the second-most all-time behind Michael Jordan who did it 109 times. This is really nothing new for Bryant who has excelled in Game 3s when tied 1-1. Over the last three seasons he’s averaged 33.3 points per game while leading the Lakers to four victories -- all on the road -- in that situation. In fact, Bryant's team are now 7-1 on the road when the series is tied heading into Game 3.

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Another “big” key (figuratively and literally) to the Lakers victory Friday was the reemergence of Pau Gasol. He averaged just 8.0 points per game in the first two games and made only 20 percent (2-for-10) of his field-goal attempts in Game 2 alone. That was his lowest field goal percentage in any of his 82 career postseason games. Game 3 was a different story as Gasol had 17 points and 10 rebounds, taking advantage of his opportunities outside five feet. Gasol was just 2-of-14 from that distance in the first two games but shot 44.4 percent (4-of-9) in Game 3, including his second 3-point make of the season.

The Hornets battled but had 14 turnovers and have now turned it over 30 times the last two games after having just three in the Game 1 win. Chris Paul led New Orleans with 22 points and 8 assists. Paul has assisted or scored on 52 percent of the Hornets total points in these playoffs (142-of-273). That is the highest percentage for any player in this year’s postseason, ahead of what Derrick Rose has contributed to the Chicago Bulls (45.5 percent).

Game 4 is Sunday and if the Hornets hope to stay alive they’ll have to do something they’ve never done in their franchise’s history. They are 0-9 in any length series when facing a 2-1 deficit.