After four games, the Lakers were expected to be off to the Second Round to face the Mavericks or Trail Blazers.
But Chris Paul and the Hornets have had other plans.
The series is tied, 2-2, thanks to tough defense by the Hornets, and a lack of quality defense by the Lakers.
Los Angeles looks to rebound from some unexpectedly poor performances when the series shifts back to Staples Center on Tuesday night, in a crucial Game Five.
Phil Jackson, known as perhaps the best game planner in the NBA, will likely go back to Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the post, and try to get Emeka Okafor, Carl Landry, and Aaron Gray into foul trouble, while still getting points from his effective big men.
So far, however, that strategy hasn't worked. The Hornets' big men have been strong down low, and haven't allowed either Gasol or Bynum to dominate them.
With Kobe Bryant in the lineup, but nursing an injured ankle or foot (Bryant claims his foot was in pain, not his ankle), and the Lakers getting little offensive production from guards Derek Fisher, and Steve Blake, the Lakers' front court will be vital.
Look for Lamar Odom to play 35 minutes. The lanky 6'10 forward hasn't been bothered by fatigue this season, and could be due for a big performance.
Chris Paul can't do it all for the Hornets. Trevor Ariza had a strong performance in Game Four, but scored only three points in the second half.
The Hornets will need more than that from their starting forward on the Lakers' home court.
PREDICTION: A big game from Lamar Odom makes up for a rather ineffective Kobe Bryant. Chris Paul's hot shooting is cooled off by tougher Lakers' team defense. The Lakers prevail as Gasol and Bynum combine for 40 points.
FINAL SCORE PREDICTION: Lakers Win, 101-92.