After Chris Paul’s triple double lifted the New Orleans Hornets Sunday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, there is little doubt that he means business. This is why we can assume that whichever team wins game five will be determined the series winner. If the Lakers win it, they will play game six in New Orleans. They could lose it, but the Lakers will definitely not suffer a defeat at home during a game seven. On the other hand, if the Hornets win game five, they will not lose game six at home. They know that if they do, they will not be able to top the Lakers on the road.

But all this does not matter, at least not yet. Now that the series is tied at two games apiece, it is surprising to see the Lakers having issues with the much smaller and inexperience Hornets. This is troubling, but the Lakers have not played a true A game against these Hornets.

After losing Game 1, Los Angeles bounced back to win the next two affairs en route to grabbing a 2-1 edge. But that changed quickly enough on Sunday when the Hornets knotted the set with a 93-88 victory at home over the two-time defending champions. Paul’s triple double of 27 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds guided the team’s performance. Meanwhile, Kobe Bryant struggled the entire evening. The Hornets held Bryant scoreless in the first half, but he amassed 17 points in the second half. This, obviously, was not enough.

The Lakers need more from Bryant offensively, which is where he mainly shines. This could be almost nonexistent Tuesday night as the Lakers host Game 5 at 7:30 p.m. at Staples Center because Bryant suffered an ankle injury. Bryant says he will play, but will he be effective and efficient enough for the purple and gold to win?