Preview & Chat: The New Orleans Hornets

Kurt —  January 6, 2009
Olympics Day 16 - Basketball

Records: Lakers 27-5 (1st in the West) Hornets 20-10 (4th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 112.9 (2nd in league) Hornets 109.1 (8th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 102.4 (4th in league) Hornets 104.7 (8th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Hornets Chris Paul, Rasual Butler, Peja Stojakovic, David West, Tyson Chandler.

PAU! The best Laker player over the last few weeks has been Pau Gasol, he has been insanely efficient, killing people with his jumper and playing smart at the rim. Rather than just another breakdown, in his honor — and in Spanish — here’s a little fun from the other night. VAMANOS!!

Lakers notes: I got an interesting email from Kevin Pelton talking about the Lakers defense during the latest winning streak. His perception is that the Lakers have toned down the aggressiveness some — they still double but have had fewer traps and such.

To me, it looks like the Lakers coaches got the team to gamble less — they are staying at home, picking their spots with pressure. Rather than try to get a turnover on every possession, they have packed it in some and decided to give up jumpers (one which they generally close out pretty well).

What are all of you seeing? It’s something to watch tonight and through the next run of games.

Last meetings: The first game was on Nov, 12 and it was a vintage early-season Lakers performance. They jumped out big on the Hornets early and crushed them. The Hornets end of the bench made a run but the game was never close.

Then the Lakers used a game — the second night of a back-to-back — to break out of their slump on Dec. 23. Again the Lakers played good defense, jumped out early and the game never was really in doubt.

The Hornets Coming In: What seems odd is that despite being a 20-10 team, this year’s Hornets just don’t strike fear into teams the way they did last year. At least it feels that way to me. What has changed? Well a little bit of everything.

When you look at the numbers, the Hornets offense is fine — eighth in the NBA in efficiency, down about two points per 100 possessions from last season. It’s not a big drop, this is still a very good offense that can score in transition or with the pick-and-roll in the half court, but it’s just been a little off. The key reason is that their turnovers are up slightly, last year they were second in the NBA in lowest turnover percentage per possession, this season they are 12th.

But the Hornets defense has taken a step back as well. The reason — they foul a lot more. Last season the Hornets fouled the lowest percentage of possessions of any team in the league, just about 18 fouls for 100 field goal attempts. This season it is more like 1 in four field goal attempts ends up in a foul. That is a lot of easy points for your opponent.

All the swings are not dramatic — the offense is just off a little and the defense is just a little worse. But combined, it is just enough to take a team from scary good to just good.

Keys To The Game: In the last two meetings, the Lakers jumped out early on the Hornets, and while there were fourth quarter runs against the bench the Lakers dominated those games. If they can jump out early today, that may demoralize the Hornets and lead to another easy win.

But that will not be easy. After the last two Lakers wins the Hornets may need this one for their own peace of mind, to know they can beat the Lakers. I expect them to treat this as a real statement game, to be especially focused and play particularly hard.

The Lakers length bothers the Hornets – it’s a bad match up for NO. But the Lakers defenders have to be active to take advantage of that. Particularly on the pick-and-roll. The Hornets use Tyson Chandler or West (Chandler rolls hard to the hoop, West pops out for a midrange jumper), and often they do both on the same play. Chris Paul uses those to probe the defense, and the Lakers need to use their length to take away his options.

One thing to key on defensively — if the ball goes to West or Posey it gets stuck. Those two shoot first and don’t pass much.

And, close out on Peja fast. The Lakers cannot let him get hot from the weak side three.

The Lakers dominated the glass during the last two wins, and that needs to continue tonight. Also, Gasol and Bynum should be able to get transition baskets if they get out and run.

Where you can watch: 7:30 start at Staples Center, with Fox Sports doing the local. National, NBA TV will have the game meaning those of you using League Pass broadband will be scrambling for a feed. Which sucks.

Kurt

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195 responses to Preview & Chat: The New Orleans Hornets

  1. Great video of Pau. Does anybody know where he ranks in the All-star voting or if it looks like he will make the team?

  2. This is certainly going to be a lot harder to win than the last Hornets game considering they have Peja…Lakers have to be careful and not play overconfidently against them just cause they beat them twice, they have to stop the pick and rolls. I am picking the Lakers to win, but I think it will be a close game within 10 points.

  3. Right now Pau is sixth in the West forward voting, about 250,000 votes out of a spot as a starter. Nobody is catching Duncan at one spot. Amare has the other right now, trailed by (in vote order) Carmelo, Nowitzki, Artest and Gasol.

    I can live with Amare as a starter with Duncan, but I think you have to take Pau over the next three vote getters (especially since Melo is out with the hand injury).

  4. I will proudly be rocking my gold FB&G t-shirt at Staples tonight.

  5. I suspect this will start out as a Kobe game. Since we beat them twice, at their place, our younger players may feel we have their number and relax a bit. This is the kind of game Kobe often goes off early to jumpstart the other players.

    Also, because of the above, I like Ariza starting – perhaps looking ahead is why Phil started him last game – and giving us a defensive jumpstart at the beginning of the game.

  6. Pardon my ignorance: What does Vamanos mean?

  7. A quick FYI (in case you run into Pau):

    Vámonos ‘let’s go’ as in ‘let’s leave’

    Vamos ‘let’s go’ as in ‘let’s step it up’

    Vamanos as in not actually a word

  8. I agree that Pau has been playing brilliantly. He’s about the most efficient post player in the league and doing it within the flow of the offense, making others better as well. But, in our praise of him, let’s not overlook the recent dominance of Kobe, who is quietly on one of his famous tears. I have no doubts that if this were a mediocre team, he would be in the middle of one of those insane 40+ point streaks. Everything is working for him right now — the jumper, the drive, getting to the line.

    Last 9 games: 31.4 points, 53.0 FG%, 61.73 TS%.

    If he were playing more minutes and shooting more, he’d be scoring at an insane rate, even if his %’s dropped a little. The true shooting % (which takes into account fg’s, threes, and ft’s) demonstrates remarkable efficiency for a high volume guard. On the season, it would place him 12th in the league and second among non-post players (behind Ray Allen). Lebron, who is the current standard for high scoring wings when it comes to efficiency, comes in at 59.9%. Other high % scorers are also below Kobe’s number: Nash (61.0), Yao (60.7), Bosh (58.6).

    Kobe’s at a career high 47.9% rate for FG’s. In my mind, he’s been the best player in the league over the last few weeks — better than he was last year, and better than Lebron (although I tip my cap to Lebron for the entire season to date).

  9. the other Stephen January 6, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    6. “let’s go!”

  10. I almost prefer an okay start to a great one. When the Lakers jump out to a 15-20 pt lead in the first half, they ALWAYS relax and let the other team back in, resulting in a nervous finish. It’s better when they hammer the other team in the 3rd

  11. Reed- Just from an eyeball perspective, your numbers have been evident. Kobe, since the second Sacramento game, has just been amazing. Most remarkable is that his shot, which was really flat the in November, early December, has had wonderful arch and looks like it always has a chance to go in.

    Kurt- I think the biggest difference in NO of last year and NO of this year is that Chandler and Peja had career years last year. This year they have been average and injured, and for a team that wholly depends on its startes for mega production, this makes them very beatable. If you look at their record against elite teams, it shows that they just aren’t playing like a title contender. All that said, they got CP3, so, there’s that.

  12. Kurt,

    I agree with Reed.

    As good as Pau’s been, Kobe’s been deadly efficient. I think it’s because he’s not settling for the jumper. He’s effectively and increasingly taking it to the basket, which opens everything up for him.

    About Pau; he should be an All-star this year. Wouldn’t that make 2 appearances for him? The only other All-Star on our team that all these so called experts now want to say should be good, because we’re loaded. Funny how things change.

  13. I want Radmanovic as a starter, I think he has always been pretty good against Peja. On the other hand, putting Ariza on CP3, Fish on Rasual Butle and Kobe on Peja makes sense as well. I think we will see a lot of Sasha in this game regardless of who starts at the 3. We do not want D-Fish to burn out chasing Chris Paul for 35+ minutes.

    The question I have is about our line-up when Kobe is resting on the bench. So far both Fish and Sasha have been together on the floor in such situations. Do you think our team becomes too mistake-prone if BOTH Kobe and Fish are out of the game?

  14. With Phil probably coaching the all-stars that means he can pick Pau over the other guys correct? I know the top vote getter is getting the start, but he is allowed to hop Pau over guys w/ more votes for a spot?

    I think we might miss Luke a bit more tonight compared to the Portland game. I suppose that depends on which version of VladRad shows up, but if it’s space cadet Vlad we will be wishing for Luke. As mentioned in the post NO has troubles matching up to us, but the threat of Peja and a space cadet version Vlade guarding him is definitely worth mention.

    That being said I’m feeling really good about the way we’ve been playing going into this one, and I definitely see us continuing the win streak tonight.

  15. I think the coaches in each conference pick the reserves. I do not think the All Star Coach gets any special say.

  16. I actually wouldn’t mind putting Fisher or Sasha on Peja. They are the best at following off the ball movers doggedly through screens and traffic (think Sasha against Korver). Kobe gets lost, either for no reason or because he’s trying to help. Ariza is a bit of a gambler too. Don’t want anyone to ever, ever leave Peja — think Fish or Sasha would be best at avoiding that.

  17. 15-

    That sounds right, I couldn’t remember exactly what the “rule” was.

    Either way, Pau deserves a spot this year so hopefully it works out.

  18. Reed, you’ve made a good point. It’s better to put Kobe on the least dangerous perimeter player – to let him play in a free safety mode.

  19. Reed, you are correct Kobe has been extremely efficient, and if he was playing on a mediocre team (like the one from 2 years ago) then he would be dropping 40 every game for the last 2 weeks.

    But you know what they say, it has to be the shoes.

  20. Reed-I’d be wary about putting a 6’1 guy on Peja. I do think Sasha could handle him though. The key to stopping Peja is making sure he doesn’t get off early.

  21. Phil on 570 said Radman would get the start and guard Peja.

    he also said he jokes with Luke and says that his family has “bad hoofs.”

  22. Good point on Fisher and Peja — that doesn’t give him enough credit for shooting over people, even when posting people up in isolation out on the wing.

  23. Allan – Brazil January 6, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Kurt, I believe the correct quote is “Vamonos”

    Pau Gasol, parece um Globetrotter.
    Que maravilha!!!!

  24. Just a note, I’ve been listening to am570 and the Loose Cannons had an interview with PJ and he stated that Radmanovich was going to start tonight to matchup against Peja rather than Ariza.

  25. I agree with Reed, Kobe’s been spectacular. He’s had his entire arsenal at his disposal and when that’s the case there’s a reason people refer to him as “the best on the planet”. The jumper, the footwork, using both hands, the post game, the body control around the basket. Lebron’s a beast, but he’s a juggernaut. He’s the SF version of young Shaq. He’s the guy whose physical tools so far outpace other players in the league that it will truly be scary when his game becomes more refined. (On a side note, I say this to friends all the time, but I’m a basketball fan in the same way that I’m a Lakers fan and I think we all need to be thankful that we’ve gotten a taste of Kobe’s and Lebron’s prime. I’m old enough to have grown up watcing Magic, Bird, and MJ…and now this current crop of players….we are blessed as fans.)

    And I’ve been loving Pau’s game for weeks as well. As a team, we’re finally back at the point where we have an inside/outside duo and the rest of our “role” players (Bynum included) are also playing very well. But our stellar record is a testament to that.

    I also agree with Kwame A. Last season, Chandler and Peja had career years. Realize too, though, that both those players have already missed more games this season than they did last season. This year they’ve both missed 6 games and last year, Chandler and Peja missed 3 and 5 games respectively. Those two guys are falling back to the norm in terms of their injury history and that can’t be good for the Hornets. Also, and this may not be a big deal, but the Hornets also miss Pargo. He was by no means a world beater or by any measure an exemplary player, but what we’re seeing this season (from multiple teams) is that it’s difficult when you lose real, contributing rotation players. He was their back up PG and even played some SG in a pinch. Sure, they’ve replaced some of his SG production with Posey but for the majority of this season they’ve been running out Devin Brown as their backup PG…not so hot. They’ve since traded for Antonio Daniels, but still, Pargo was a versatile guy and helped them last season.

  26. In the likely event that Pau doesn’t get voted in as a starter, he will definitely be on the all-star team as a reserve chosen by the coaches. Like the MVP award, all-star berths are partially given out by their team’s records. If we have one of the, if not the best record in the league, having only one all-star in the game would be not just a travesty, but an impossibility IMO given the current way coaches vote for awards.

    Last year, all six of KG, Pierce, and Ray Allen of Boston and Hamilton, Billups, and Sheed of Detroit all made the all-star team, and I think we can all agree that some of those picks were decided more by team record than overall impact.

    As for NO, all we need to do is force Chris Paul to shoot jump shots and we’ll have ourselves a win. Right now, they’re not defending nearly as well as they were last year, and they can’t score enough to offset the difference. Forcing CP3 to be a jump-shooter takes them out of what they do best, which is to PNR and then let Paul destroy teams in the paint.

  27. I’d rather Pau and Kobe recuperate a little over the break. The All-Star game is meaningless.

  28. Western all stars:

    Locks: Paul, Kobe, Dirk, Duncan, Yao, Gasol, Amare, Billups, Roy.

    That leaves three spots open, one of which must go to a center.

    At center, I think it’s between Shaq, Nene and Al Jefferson, with Shaq probably deserving/getting the nod given how bad Minnesota is and the deserved respect for Shaq around the league. Either of the others would be fine with me, however.

    The other two spots are tricky. Contenders: Parker, Nash, Deron, Melo, Durant, West, Aldridge, Jefferson, and Nene. Compelling arguments for all, but I lean towards Parker and West. Both are on teams at the top of the conference and playing very well. Both have all star numbers (Parkers in particular are very good).

  29. Let’s see if we can hold on to the best record for a bit longer.

    Eye on the prize, eye on the prize.

  30. I think the reason the Hornets don’t strike fear in anyone, is because they are a mediocre team led by an exceptional player. Chris Paul’s transcendence gives them legitimacy, but the rest of the NBA sees them as a team to reckon with and plans for other players accordingly, and can affect them. So while they have a good record at 20-10, I don’t think they are good enough to impose their will on opponents like a truly elite team.

  31. Reed,

    I’d give the spots to Shaq, Parker, and maybe ‘Melo.

  32. Does anyone else find it extremely wrong to know that Yi Jianlian has 300,000+ more all-star votes than Chris Bosh and has a chance at actually starting?

  33. 32-Not really. The all-star game is for the fan’s, so whoever the fans (around the whole world) vote in, is who they vote in.

  34. To somewhat agree with what Wondahbap just said, I think Paul needs a better wingman. I’m impressed with West as a very good talent. I also think that Chandler and Peja are very capable players, but that they are truly specialists (defense/rebounding and shooting/wing scorinig). Ultimately, I think that Paul needs a player that is one of the better (top 8 or so) players at his respective position to team up with. I dont think that West is at that level. Sure, he’s capable of 20 pts and 10 rebounds a game, but without Paul, he’s not that guy that can achieve those stats. (While for example, Pau is that caliber of player with or with out Kobe, as he proved in Memphis.) Honestly, and this is not to knock West, but I think that he’s not as good as Duncan, KG, Dirk, Amare, Brand, or Gasol, and think that he’s probably on par or a notch below Boozer and Rasheed as an overall player. Some may argue with that, but it’s what I believe. If the NBA has taught me anything it’s that it takes 2 elite (or 1 elite and one very near elite) players to truly contend for a title (save the 2004 Pistons) plus above average and seasoned role players. Right now, I think the Hornets have the 1 elite player and several above average role players and one All-Star (but not near elite/elite) player. They need that other guy.

  35. Darius, Good points. i don’t see West as an elite player wither. Good, yes. Elite, no. He can’t overcome players with length. Elite players can overcome problems. I don’t want my PF to be nicknamed the “17 Foot Assasin.”

  36. Ballot-stuffing is what the NBA wants in many ways, so I don’t mind Yi starting… I’d actually love to see Sun Yue start just for the heck of it.

    As for Kobe and Pau being extremely efficient… wow, that’s like something on paper actually materializing.

    If you put two elite players together, they should, theoretically both become more efficient just because of the attention the other takes, and as they become more efficient, they get more attention and allow role players to thrive.

    Stuff of Disney sports movies. Except we may be seeing it happen here.

  37. 35- And that’s another reason the Hornets have problems. West, although a good player is primarily a jump-shooter. The Hornets could defintley use a big who is capable of creating his own shot from the block and a wing who could create his own shot from the perimeter.

    Still, they did win 55 some-odd games last year. I really think Byron needs to go deeper into his bench, he may have a gem in Julian Wright that he is blocking. Byron doesn’t seem to like young players like Wright (see Smith, J.R), but he may have to see what Wright can do.

  38. Kwame,

    Apparently, from what I read on Hornets blogs, Byron doesn’t like dumb players. Wright, like J.R. Smith can’t remember plays and is always in the wrong position on a set play.

  39. The thing that I don’t get about Byron and Julian Wright is that Wright’s actually playing less than last regular season and playoffs. Either he’s not that good, has regressed from last season, or Byron would just rather play Posey and Peja on the wing and Wright is the odd man out. I’d probably lean towards option three, because I always liked Wright, but Byron is from the Riley school of coaching and that means Veterans get the benefit of the doubt (unless you’re Magic Johnson or D-Wade).

  40. Hunh. Charlotte leading Boston at the half. Is anyone else shocked at how well Diaw is playing?

  41. Darius,

    Both have expressed their problems through the press. Byron has explained his frustration with Julian’s inability to execute and that he’ll play when he learns what he’s supposed to do, and Wright has answered that by not agreeing and saying there must be more to it, publicly. Coach wins.

  42. 40. Not really.. he did have that good stretch once in Phoenix before that got him the MIP of the Year award before anyway.

    I’m more surprised with Boston trailing though.. I thought that with what happened with the Knicks, they would be murdering the guys they’re playing right now.

  43. The Bobcats are one of those teams that just gives the Celtics fits. Read Simmons or talk to any diehard Boston fan and they’ll tell you that Charlotte always plays the C’s tough. It’s like Portland for us or Sacramento (when both teams were/are bad). Just one of those things that has no rhyme or reason to it (on paper at least).

  44. Chandler and Pargo were really close last year, and Tyson plays best with emotion. Maybe he misses Pargo? Chandler’s numbers are really down this year (11.8 pts at 62.3% 11.8 reb last year / 8.8pts at 54.6 8.0reb this year). It seemed like it was his breakout season last year.

    CP3 is unstoppable, but he needs some help. Peja isn’t going to cut the mustard, especially during the playoffs.

  45. Bobcats just blew their chance…I can guarentee you they are not gonna beat the C’s in overtime.

  46. bobcats leading by 5 with 1:44 to go.

  47. I know, normally when Im negative, it always backfires, hopefully it happens here to haha.

  48. looks like bobcats might just take the win

  49. gotta love pierce’s effort, he is clutch no need to argue that. credit where credit is due

  50. Its just beautiful to see the Celtics losing like this…aganst bad teams to, hopefully it keeps up.

  51. Wow.. Augustin just killed the Celts in OT with a devastating 3, and now the free throws…the slump officially continues.

  52. Niiiiiiice.

    So much for the 72-10 talk.

  53. Augustin looks quite good. He has carried the Bobcats in OT. That drop off pass to Felton was beautiful. Clutch free throws too.

  54. Celtics have some concerns, but nothing to jump off a bridge over . . . not yet at least.

  55. 45

    Good call…

  56. The lakers sent the C’s into a funk. They havent been the same since we beat them. Good game against the ‘cats. There was an MJ sighting too.

  57. I don’t understand why Boston commits so many turnovers. Rondo with 9 TOs? Yowza.

  58. 54, its called the jinx, it works everytime :)

  59. didnt catch the whole C’s game not even half of it. did the celtics play horribly? anyone tune into the game to let me in on some insight or is everyone just looking at the box score

    you reckon the loss to us on christmas day is the reason behind why they are playing so horribly or do teams just know how to win against them now?

  60. Regarding the Hornets, they are too reliant on Paul to create good shots. West can do it to an extent but not at an elite level. Posey, Peja, and Butler are spot-up shooters. Chandler gets most of his buckets (the ones that aren’t putbacks) off Paul’s lobs and dumpoffs. They could really use either a slashing swingman who can make plays for himself and others, or an elite back-to-the-basket scorer. As it is now they are too predictable offensively to contend for a title in my opinion. Limit Paul (or make him a scorer rather than a passer) and they’ll struggle to put points on the board.

  61. I think the Celtics funk has more to do with coming off the high of their win streak. A team is energized when they have something specific to shoot for. After the Lakers ended it, the Celtics have not played with the same intensity or focus on either end of the floor.

  62. 59. Teams are figuring out how to play the Celtics better — there is a great video linked on TrueHoop today. Essentially, teams are daring Rondo to be a jumpshooter, because he still sucks at that. The Lakers certainly did that, but I’m not sure they really created a blueprint that didn’t exist before, every team knew it.

    Also, simply, the Celtics are slumping. Here’s the thing (and this may be the post for tomorrow, so help me flesh it out): When the Lakers played like crap in December, Phil Jackson was coaching for May. There is no other coach in the league that has his eye on the big picture all season long like Phil (well, maybe Pop). I’m not sure Doc Rivers can do that. I don’t know if Kevin Garnett is capable of looking past winning the game tonight. It could lead to interesting moves on the part of the Celtics that are not smart long term.

  63. This tailspin the Celtics are in really puts our two-game losing “streak” against Miami and Orlando into perspective. Even when the Lakers weren’t playing their best, the wins (for the most part) kept piling up. Even an eternal cynic such as myself, however, wouldn’t start dancing on the C’s grave just yet. Lots of season left.

  64. “It could lead to interesting moves on the part of the Celtics that are not smart long term.”

    Translation: Staaaaaaaarrrr-bury!!!!

    Let’s hope so… :-)

  65. Any links for the New Orleans-Lakers game tonight btw?

  66. Thanks for the hookup, 81 Witness.

  67. Gotta love the Knicks – beat Boston, lose to OKC

  68. Same here, thanks Witness.

  69. why do i have a bad feeling both peja and cp3 will have great games today?

  70. -61

    yeah doc does seem more like a win-right-now sort of person. thanks for the insight

  71. Clippers are beating Mavericks at the moment with around 2 minutes to go and Eric Gordon is looking really good.

  72. We’re having a typical 1st quarter it seems.

    Chandler out with two, but not sure if we can close this thing this quarter.

  73. So far I don’t think this defecit has anything to do with Hornet intensity or Laker lack thereof. They’re all just missing shots they make. Pau especially. I can live with that, and it’ll probably shift at some point in the match. Its just a matter of whether they fall to far behind to catch up or not.

  74. Darius Miles Watch:

    2 games down, 8 to go

  75. Just our players being slow to catch on. Kobe, of course, is still efficient… and both teams just have one turnover each.

    Both Chandler and West being tagged with two PFs each could be helpful later.

  76. Kurt,

    I think teams are losing their fear or hesitation of Boston interior D, especially with Perk having some shoulder issues. KG and Perk are the foundation of everything the Celtics do defensively, and lately, teams are taking it right at KG in crucial situations. Pau, LaMarcus Aldridge, Wilson Chandler, Al Harrington, and David lee all came up big.

    Take out the head, the body dies.

  77. Re the Celtics: Last year I though the Rockets played during their 22 game win streak as if that was their championship. Yao went down, but they still brough an incredible intensity and the streak became its own rallying call. Ultimately, they couldn’t maintain that indefinitely, and when they did fall to earth they looked every bit as human as they were. Almost like they put so much into the streak that their tanks were empty.

    I wonder if the Celtics are the same way. Their streak took on a life of its own and I wonder if they’re out of gas and searching a little. But it’s a lot earlier than the Rockets had their run and the Celtics didn’t lose KG midway through it.

    Hopefully it leads to some form of panic trade or other chemistry destroying move though ; )

  78. So, Kobe lovers, how do you like the star treatment for Paul?

  79. Dont mean to be negative but, if we dont slow down Chris Paul, this is gonna be a long night.

  80. clippers can never squeeze out a win :( gordon has been looking really nice, he’s starting to understand how to pick up the calls. cambys been his usual beast like self on the clippers. besides that though there isn’t much goig for the clippers right now

  81. Bynum looked like the old himself (pre-injury last year) on that dunk. Hilton Armstrong is in the game for god’s sake, take advantage of Bynum all the way

  82. I never thought Doc was a good coach, and Kurt is probably right about Doc not seeing the big picture.

    Doc Riverswas substituting him with Eddie House for offense/defense in the final minute of OT. How is Rondo going to gain confidence in his shot, and WANT to take that shot, if Doc won’t trust him in game 35 of the season?

    Docs antics rattled Rondo last year, and with all of the Steph to Boston talk, and every team letting him shoot, Doc should ride it out, and show faith in his guy for the long run. He won’t get bailed out this year .

  83. Did Vlade just BANK IN A DUNK??

  84. love that ariza hustle, steals, and finish! he’s a difference maker.

  85. I like this. Ariza on CP3.

  86. The Dude Abides January 6, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    The Cobra strikes again in a replay of those two plays against the Celtics. One thing about Vlad’s play against the Hornets: he almost always has subpar games against them when Peja plays because Vlad was younger, he and all the other young Serbs idolized Peja. I’m hoping he changes things tonight.

  87. Everything about the defense looks bad.

  88. Lamar is ON. Hornets bigs in foul trouble exposes the thinness of their bench, No way they can get far in the playoffs relying on only West and Chandler. Signing Posey was big for them but it took up all of their MLE that could have landed them some decent big

  89. Except there were no decent bigs for them to sign.

  90. joey Crawford shouldn’t be a ref. He is just awful. Not just against the Lakers, both ways. He is just plain out bad. He makes fake calls, makes calls when he can’t see the play, makes calls out of position. Just terrible.

    I hope LO is o.k.

  91. The Dude Abides January 6, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Wow, I have to agree with those who say that Fish is lousy with the ball on the fast break. Trevor was WIDE OPEN for an alley oop and Fish didn’t see him. Point guards cannot miss their teammates like that, especially after said teammate makes a great play on CP3 at the other end to start that fast break.

  92. Awful end to the quarter.

  93. Now the Laker intensity is awful

  94. we are playing just ugly right now

  95. KOBE FROM HALFCOURT!

  96. hope LO is alright, we don’t need another name added onto the injury list

    and kobe of course being kobe

  97. You know who’s good? Chris Paul.

    Know who else? Kobe Bryant.

    I’m available for hire as a pro scout if anybody wants to utilize my services.

  98. Wonder who comes down to earth first, CP3 or KB24…

  99. Lamar out for the evening… Man this is the last thing we needed with Walton and Farmar out for an extensive stretch

  100. Not watching the game but did we stat curse pau?

  101. Space Cadet is not making a great case for more minutes right now…

  102. so i was wrong… i said it would be chris and peja’s day… well half wrong.

  103. Radmanovic blows an open dunk… Murphy’s law starting to kick in

  104. The Dude Abides January 6, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Ugh. That’s two blown layups/dunks from Vlad that have led to fast break dunks for NOLA.

  105. I have a feeling we might see a Kobe explosion tonight.

  106. The Dude Abides January 6, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    I will be very pleasantly surprised if the Lakers win this game. NOLA has something to prove, Lamar’s out, Pau is off, and West has been on fire. On the other hand, we do have that Kobe Bryant fellow.

  107. Kobe is single-handedly keeping us in the game.

  108. KOBEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    I love him!!!

  109. Um, I guess that was an understatement on my part! I can’t remember the last time Kobe went off quite like this.

  110. Kobe isn’t just unconscious, he’s practically comatose.

  111. refs are screwing us on this game… kobe’s been fouled the last three 3pt shots!

  112. Not sure if I’ve ever seen anyone this hot before.

  113. Kobe. Bean. Bryant.

  114. Shoot out alright…

  115. Please…dont leave Peja open like that…

  116. Kobe has either scored or had a hand in the last seven or eight possessions. This is MVP Kobe taking over the game as we know he can.

  117. For all those out there who say that LeBron is the best player in the game, think again!!!

    Kobe is surreal right now

  118. Lebron really the best player in the NBA now? Kobe might have something to say about that!

  119. It’s almost a shame the lakers are too good for 81 point games now. So fun.

  120. The Dude Abides January 6, 2009 at 10:22 pm

    It’s possible that Vlad will sit for the rest of the game. When his shot isn’t falling, he isn’t a whole lot of good…especially when he blows easy layups. Time for the Cobra to take over on D.

  121. Kobe is having one of those games

  122. Let’s hope Pau wakes up…

  123. It’s hard to overshadow the night Chris Paul is having, but Kobe has done exactly that in the third quarter.

  124. i know we gotta rest kobe… but dang… if i was coaching, i’d be tempted to just leave him in for the whole 4th qtr.

  125. Somebody wake Kobe up, he’s dreaming. This isn’t January 22nd and you’re not surrounded by Smush and Kwame. Good god, that sounds awful. Smush and kwame used to start in this league.

  126. guess they left him in…

  127. Here is a prayer that LO’s injury is not serious. Reports say he hyperextended his knee and will have an MRI later today. I know this is a deep team, but with Walton, Farmar and LO (hopefully not) we do not have too many playmakers left except for Fish and Kobe. Sasha is not exactly a playmaker

  128. What a great game, lets hope we can pull out a win. The hornets have played very well, must be a bit disheartening for them to be playing this well and still be down. Not much you can do when Kobe is on fire.

  129. Our depth is being tested, really…

  130. Oh man. LO is a big deal.

  131. lol. josh powell with the crab dribble.

  132. cp3 is getting the superstar calls today, not kobe…

  133. turr-i-ble call.

  134. I henceforth decree that every traveling call shall be forthwith anointed as a ‘crab dribble’

  135. that kobe guy is pretty good.

  136. LeBron’s new name is King Crab

  137. Maybe it was that little blurb about Kobe having a long way to go to catch up MJ’s 40 pt games lighted a fire…

  138. no doubt lebron will regret ever coming up with the term crab dribble… he will be forever associated with the word crab.

  139. 139

    Yes you do.

  140. Where is Bynum?

  141. f u crawford

  142. geez… fish can’t make layups in traffic at all can he?

  143. C’mon can’t lose at home! Let’s not waste one of Kobe’s most efficient games…

  144. I could have lived with a PUJIT there…

  145. Nobody other than Kobe can hit a shot in this game.

  146. How about Derek Fisher start pulling out instead of going to hole on the fastbreak? I cringe whenever I realize he’s headed for the hoop..

  147. Paul has a tidy 14-0 assist to turnover ratio. Not bad.

  148. ref during this game January 6, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    david stern told me not to let the lakers record get too far ahead of the celts…thats why I am calling it this way

  149. The Dude Abides January 6, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    Fish was definitely fouled on that layup attempt. He still should have made it. He should also realize that his contested driving layups should be the last option on a fast break.

  150. I’d love to see Kobe get in the post a little bit more right now. We need to get better looks than the jumpers we’re taking and Gasol is having an off night. Plus, Bynum needs to come in for Powell.

  151. Lakers have shot 28 3-pointers so far

  152. Even with Kobe being as hot as he is, hard to keep up with both West and Paul being hot.

    Especially not when we have three solid contributors out…

  153. now if we can step up the d and get some stops, we might be able to win. bynum needs to get active and get some rebounds and pau needs to get aggressive.

  154. shouldn’t Maria Sharapova be in Australia?

  155. We’ve hit 15 of 30 threes and are down by 7, who would have thought.

  156. The problem with Kobe being in the post right now is that he can’t see the inevitable double team…this offense really needs some sort of Kobe-pretending-to-be-Rip-going-through-20-screens type of option if no one else is willing to step up

  157. i think i’ll be ok if ariza stops shooting 3. actually i take that back, i would prefer all laker players to not take so many 3′s and go inside.

  158. So much for David West not being an elite player. Maybe he was reading the blog in the locker room.

  159. The Lakers’ decision making today has been atrocious.

  160. This game is so irritating, very hard to watch right now. Everything seems to be going wrong.

  161. If they’re going to double Kobe on every touch and then deny him ball after he gives it up, someone else has to make a shot or create an easy look for a teammate. And so far, it’s just not happening. It’d be nice if *someone* could make a play right now.

  162. i wish we had this “jack in the box” in chicago.

    is it all that great? angelenos?

  163. 3 minutes, 9 points.

    Not impossible, but at this rate, we’ll need Kobe to be even hotter.

    Anyway, classic case of:
    1. elite PG
    2. a big that can stretch the defense.

  164. Fisher has 17 fga. Bynum and Gasol have 15 fga between them.

  165. Also, I don’t think I should have been talking smack about West earlier. He’s having an amazing offensive game.

  166. That’s a charge? Really?

  167. 163. I’d trade you every Jack In The Box for a couple Lou Malnati’s/

  168. That’s all for now folks..

  169. this was really the hornets game all the way…

  170. Great game by the Hornets.

  171. oh well. win 6 lose 1. can’t win them all. the hornets came in more inspired and determined, played with more intensity.

    the celtics losing makes the our loss not so bad.

  172. WHY was gasol so quiet tonight!!?!?!?

  173. Man, if you look at the box score to this game the only reason the lakers are this close is made 3 pointers.

  174. I can’t see the Hornets playing a much better game than this. David West goes for 40. CP3 goes for 32 with 15 ast 3 stl and 0 TO. Team shoots 33 of 37 from the line and has 9 TO.

  175. The Dude Abides January 6, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Joey Crawford finally got his chance to make up for the non-call on Fisher in Game 4 of the WCF. He was terrible tonight. Those last calls on Sasha were the icing on the cake. That being said, our guys were outplayed tonight. They had two players in the zone, we only had one who could make plays consistently. Actually, LO was doing that in the first half, but he got hurt. Now we’re going to see just how much we miss him if he’s out for awhile. I’m hoping it’s only for a couple games.

  176. Shows ya what it takes to beat the Lakers, Paul and West were absolutely amazing. Odom was REALLLLYYYYY missed in that 4th. We will get them next time.

  177. It is 7 AM where I am right now and I am pissed

  178. Same here Mamula, where are you? Sweden here..

  179. I think Oskar’s right. For all that went wrong for the Lakers tonight, and all that went right for the Hornets, this game could have been a lot more out of hand.

  180. Yeah, if it takes an Ultra hot CP3 + West

    AND

    -Lamar, -Farmar, -Walton for one of the better teams in the west to beat the Lakers…

    Not sure whose statement game this was.

    Also, not quite sure whose home turf this was considering how the calls went.

  181. Per Magic, we had six home games, and we lost one. Hornets came in with intensity and wanted this one more. Let’s hope LO comes back for SA and Houston next week.

  182. When the Lakers took the lead at the end of the third, they didn’t take advantage. They settled for jumpers instead of driving to the hoop. Kobe’s hot hand was not going to last, and, I agree with Joe, Odom was missed.

  183. So.. what injury was it that Lamar got in the game? I had to hold off on watching the game for a while because my brother had to use the PC. Man… injuries are starting to pile up again.. D:

  184. This was the toughest game to watch this season. Officiating was inexcusable.

    What could the Lakers have done better? Don’t tell me play Paul better, cause the refs wouldn’t let them. We’re they supposed to play West closer and get called for 10 more fouls? Seriously how did the Lakers not get 5 more T’s this game?

  185. Yea, Pau, Kobe and Fisher 41+ minutes each tonight with a game tomorrow, not good.

  186. every player even the good ones like kobe will have an off night. pau had one of those tonight. considering how efficient and consistent he’s been, i can live with him being off tonight.

    i wish i could say the same about bynum. not saying he’s not contributing, but he can play with a little more energy and step up big every once in a while. he’s playing decent d, not at the level of last year but there are some critical defensive plays that he makes. other than that, when was the last time he had a big night defensively and offensively? when we were hot in Oct? i don’t remember.

    i don’t expect him to be a 20-10 guy, i just want him to play with a little more intensity and energy. does it look to you guys like he doesn’t seem to care much? that’s my impression whenever they pan the camera on him after a bad play by him.

  187. So, was Pau’s defense on West inadequate, or is there just no answer when West hits his jumpshots like that?

  188. Does anyone think that we may lose 2 in a row playing the warriors tomorrow? that’s a possibility with 3 of our starters playing more than 40 mins and possibly playing without odom. throw in some late night traveling to oaktown and that’s a recipe for 2 in a row.

    ok..i’m getting ahead of myself, but it sure helps to lower my expectations so i don’t get my heart broken tomorrow if they do lose. i hope not.

  189. has anyone noticed every time we have the best record in the NBA we lose it, we never hold onto it long enough. hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow night against golden state, heres hoping for the best. also hope lamar’s ok for all the ranting of his inconsistency etc his absence tonight was apparent

    “live by the 3 die by the 3″ was the lakers motto tonight

  190. also forgot to mention i hope that ariza stops settling for the 3s and(or) jumpers. hes much more efficient when he drives to the hoop

  191. The Warriors are the type of team that can either hurt you with their scoring and pace and fearlessness or keep you in the game with their inability to play consistent on either end. I don’t think the Lakers are any more likely to come out tired than any other back to back night. Kobe is one of the best conditioned players in the entire league and Fish and Gasol will be fine too. What we’ll need to do better than tonight is take advantage inside and play to our strengths. That means playing a slower pace (especially with Farmar AND LO likely out, so the 2nd unit won’t have that spark) and pounding the ball inside to Gasol (who I expect to have a better game…I mean how many times has he had back to back bad games) and to Bynum. We’ll also need better efforts on offense from Sasha and Radman. With all our injuries, we need everyone to contribute…we no longer have that cushion of being the deepest team, not with these injuries.

    As for Kurt’s talk about Boston and coaching, here’s my take. Just like Kurt mentioned, Phil and Pop (and Riles and maybe Larry Brown, basically the best coaches) are the only coaches in the league that, by my estimation, are real *teachers* as coaches. They let their team struggle, they mix up line ups, they’ll do the unconventional thing in order to get their guys ready to win when it counts. They really are big picture coaches. I think Doc (and this worked masterfully last season with a hungry group that had never reached the highest level) coaches to win every game and to maximize effort and production for every game. This goes hand in hand with KG, so for last year’s Celtics, I think this was exactly what was needed for them to win the title. It worked, so good on them. But now, this season, the Celtics are not as good, not as deep, and are coming off a 100+ game season where they played intense ball (or strived for it) every single night….and ultimately that same strategy is not going to work this season. Doc has to make adjustments, but with the makeup of his team (led by KG) I’m not sure if that’s even possible. They’re going to go hard every night, and that’s a tough thing to do when they’re in year two after a Finals win. Not because they don’t *want* to, but because it’s just a hard thing to do coming off the grind of a championship season. Think back to the Lakers threepeat years earlier this decade. In those second and third title years, how truly impressive of a regular season team were we? How hard did we push for regular season dominance? The fact is we weren’t impressive or dominant in the regular season. In fact it was quite the opposite, we *flipped the switch* (as the pundits say) and dominated the playoffs (at least the majority of the series we played) and won multiple titles. Boston (and really Doc’s) goal should be to win the title. But he’s going to have to realize (and never being in this position before is going to hamper his ability to do so) that you can’t have a team play with maximized effort and energy for two straight seasons and 200+ games. Either he’ll learn or they’ll lose. This is why I love our coach. People can complain about his style and the fact that he just sits there, but he wants his team to peak at the right time and he wants them to find their own path. How often does the General of the Army really go and give orders on the front line anyway? The soldiers, when in the heat of battle, need to know what to do on their own. He knows what he’s doing.

  192. Darius,

    Good point about the Lakers threepeat team… when you look at the Jordan and Pippen’s threepeat teams, you could really start to see the cracks by the end of 3rd championship in each instance. I enjoyed watching the 97-98 Eastern Conf. finals and NBA finals that year as the Bulls really had to gut out the closing games of each respective series.

  193. Live blog posted on the main page. Disappointing game tonight, eh?