Lakers/Hornets: Brilliance From Both Sides, But Lakers Hold On

Darius Soriano —  February 5, 2011

Coming into the game – with the Hornets short handed and the Lakers having New Orleans’ number recently (winning 8 of their last 10 in this match up) – many assumed that this would be a win. Well, those assumptions turned out to be true as the Lakers were able to start out their road trip with a W, taking down the Hornets 101-95. However, I’m pretty sure no one saw this game playing out the way that it did.

You see, the Hornets were a very game opponent tonight. Throughout the contest they hit shot after shot and stayed within striking distance the entire night. On the evening New Orleans shot nearly 50% from the field, including making 9-21 of their three point shots. And it wasn’t necessarily due to a lack of Laker D. Yes, the Lakers wings could have closed out better on shooters and there were times where the rotations the team showed weren’t as quick as needed. Plus, the Hornets did a good job earning extra possessions by hitting the offensive glass hard grabbing 11 of their own misses. But, the Hornets deserve a load of credit for how they performed on that side of the ball.

Let me rephrase, actually. Chris Paul deserves loads of credit. The Hornets PG was simply brilliant. The entire game he controlled the flow of the action by consistently breaking down the Lakers’ D and getting his teammates open shots. He showed his great skill in managing the P&R and repeatedly found space coming off the screen by either going wide around the hedge man or simply splitting the defenders. After beating the help he relentlessly picked out the open man and found his shooters on time and in space and his guys rewarded his trust in them. Whether it was Aaron Gray or DJ Mbenga slipping into space around the rim or David Andersen spotting up on the perimeter, Paul’s guys hit the shots he needed them to. And when CP3 wasn’t passing, he was knocking down his own shot. Runners, jumpers, floaters, three pointers…Paul hit them all and made it look easy. On the night he finished with 21 points (on 8-11 shooting) and 15 assists to only 4 turnovers. Simply fantastic.

Sadly for the Hornets, though, it wasn’t enough. And that’s because the Lakers had their own players showing brilliance on offense. Namely, Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant.

We’ll start with the big Spaniard who went all black swan on the Hornets. Gasol knocked down 13 of his 17 shots and 8 of his 9 FT’s on his way to a season high 34 points. For good measure he grabbed 10 rebounds, handed out 3 assists to only 1 turnover, and had a block all while not committing a single foul. Basically, he was as good as he’s been all season. Whether on the low block, the short wing, or the elbow, Pau knocked down shot after shot and used his aggression to get excellent position to get his shot off.

But it wasn’t just Pau that was flashing excellent offensive skill. It turns out that Kobe guy is pretty good too. #24 also topped the 30 point plateau (32 in all), knocking down 10 of his 22 shots including 4 of his 5 three pointers and all 8 of his foul shots. While I normally don’t like for Kobe to settle for as many jumpers that he took tonight, he consistently knocked them down so you won’t hear me complaining. In fact, I liked the fact that Kobe was aggressive with his jumper as that was the shot that the Hornets were giving him. Too often they left him with too much space on the outside and Kobe made them pay for it. Not to mention that a couple of those jumpers were ones that ended Hornets’ runs, including one that was a dagger that broke a 92 all tie and put the Lakers up for good.

This wasn’t the Lakers best game but the Hornets rose to the challenge and played a very good game. I would have liked to see the Lakers win by more, control the contest for longer stretches, and for once not give up a run at the end of a quarter where the opposition steals momentum (this time at the end of the first half AND the 3rd quarter). But, along the same lines the Hornets showed why they’d only lost 5 home games coming into tonight and why they were 13 games over .500 to start the night. They’re a good team that can control the flow of the game when Paul (one of the league’s truly elite players) is on.

In the end, though, a win is all we can ask for and that’s exactly what we got. Style points are great but they don’t add any extra marks to the win column and only matter on highlight reels. The Lakers needed to start this road trip on the right foot and that’s what’s most important. They’ll get the chance to build on it all on Monday vs. the Grizz.

Darius Soriano

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16 responses to Lakers/Hornets: Brilliance From Both Sides, But Lakers Hold On

  1. Pau and Kobe played very well and I hate to nitpick after wins especially road wins, but its troubling that they accounted for literally 2/3 of our teams points. It continues to bother me that Brown/Blake and the rest of the bench has been hit or miss. I think the bench will be much better once Barnes gets back b/c his activity level alone makes us a better team. It’s just a little disheartening to see bench players less talented than ours stepping up when our guys can’t seem to find a groove. I liked Bynum’s activity early on. I was a little surprised to see him play less in the second half, but I’ve never questioned PJ nor am I about to start.

  2. @1

    They still need something from Blake. Not a lot–but something. But they usually need 10-15 points from Fisher and Blake, not 0-6

  3. Ron was some kind of insane beast on D tonight. Loved it!

  4. I had my own take on things but it got late and I got very confused. http://tinyurl.com/5ve88lh

  5. #1 you also add Bynum’s offensive output and that would be 75% of the laker points. But I will always take a win specially a road win against a playoff team. Though, the team made their effort on the defensive end and held the hornets to less than 100 pts despite a near perfect offensive execution from New Orleans.

  6. Darius,Kobe hoisted at least 4 last second bail-out shots,and had a couple of in and outs I thought this is worth mentioning too.The real story here is as you said NO played heck of a game with their bench scorching.Nice exciting game..

  7. ESPN reports a possible 3 three team trade. carmelo for brewer, Wilson chandler and 1st round pick. in my mind that’s a bad trade for Denver but they mmay be getting desperate now

  8. The bench to me will be up and down all season like it usually is, along with Fisher and Artest’s contributions. The biggest key of last night was Pau playing so well, if he can get his mojo back then the Lakers will win the games they should this season.

  9. Only one commenter so far, and that includes Darius, has mentioned Artest’s defense. Another indication that we really only notice baskets. Without Ron’s spectacular performance we don’t win last night.

    JD, I have been questioning Phil’s limitation of Andrew’s minutes for some while now and I can only hope it is to get him completely physically comfortable, because he certainly has earned more time and we may really need that time against really tough front lines – like the Griz – you know, the ones that give real trouble to the combination of Pau and Lamar. The other possible thought is that he really is afraid more minutes will definitely result in an injury and he wants to reduce the probabilities until he needs Andrew in the playoffs – and he is willing to lose a home court advantage in a possible finals series to insure his presence.

  10. 8- For the record, it wasn’t just Ron’s D, it was Fish(who would have thought, some might say).

    He was getting pretty good team defense plays like the charges, poking loose balls and strips too.

    That’s just what I noticed.

    Although, Chris Paul is a tough cover regardless of his statline.

    Bye.

  11. Gabriel R.,
    You are right. Sorry I didn’t mention that. I plead guilty of my own criticism.

  12. Craig and Gabriel are both right. The D from Ron (especially) and Fisher giving his usual effort in fighting through/over/around screens was very good last night. In fact, while the Lakers D struggled in the 2nd and 3rd quarters was up and down (to go along with some great Hornet shot making) those two played with the same intensity the entire game. I didn’t mention it in the recap, but I probably should have.

  13. I wasn’t able to watch the game last night. Too bad cuz Ron hasn’t played a good defensive game in a while..

    The Box score says Kobe went 10-22 from the field, 4-5 from three, and 8-8 from the free throw line.

    10 from the field is 20 points, 4 3 pointers is 12 points plus 8 free throws made is 40 points. Why did he only score 32??

  14. 13,

    You double counted the 3 pointers among the field goals.its 10 times 2, plus 4 (not 12) plus 8 = 32.

  15. Reign on Parades February 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Another spotty outing for the bench, Matt Barnes really seems like the guy who makes the Killer B’s, particularly now that Blake and Brown have cooled off significantly (an inevitability seeing as how they were making close to half their spot up shots to begin the season)

    Can’t wait to get our full second unit out with Gasol or Bynum