Box Score: Lakers 107, Hornets 101
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 117.6, Hornets 111.0
True Shooting %: Lakers 59.6%, Hornets 57.5%
Lakers go into the tail end of a back-to-back with TIRED legs. They played a double overtime game against Memphis the night before. But no rest for these weary Lakers.
After a bit of a slow start (well, for most of these Lakers), Kobe Bryant looked like he had control out there. Kobe finished with 33 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists. He was key in that 14-4 run in the 3rd quarter after the Hornets had them down as many as 17 points (for the second consecutive night, the Lakers had to overcome a 17-point deficit on the road). Kobe made some pretty big plays down the stretch. Of course, there were the three freethrows he made to send the game to overtime. And then he made a pretty big throwdown (and the foul) for a three-point play at the start of overtime. And, of course, the two freethrows to put the game away. Sure, he could shoot better than 10 for 23 from the field (but PERFECT in his 11 foul shots) but he, like the rest of the Lakers, never panicked.
And you shouldn’t panic when you have an All-Star center like Andrew Bynum. Darius calls him Altered Beast (I’m sure you guys remember that game, right? No? We must be old then.). This monster finished with 25 points and 18 rebounds (following a fantastic 37/16 effort the night before). Those alley-oops upside your heads from Pau Gasol have become a Laker signature play. I also love that the Lakers now trust him to do damage in the final few minutes of a game. And did you see his quick moves around the basket? Particularly that spin and reverse lay-up against Chris Kaman? I have never seen him move this fast… ever. I wonder which Laker fans want to trade him now after these showings.
Metta World Peace has impeccable timing when it comes to making big plays. He made a 3-pointer late in the 4th quarter. He had an incredible inbounds pass to Kobe for a shot that would’ve won at regulation. In OT, he passed it to an open Derek Fisher that put the Lakers ahead for good. Then he followed it up with a steal and a lay-up that put them up three. Finally, he blocked Chris Kaman near the end of the game when Hornets were desperate for a score. Metta didn’t have incredible statistics (7 points and 3 assists) but he just has that big play ability when you least expect it. You would think his hands were like E. Honda’s 100-Hand Slap from Street Fighter the way he gets his hands on the basketball.
Pau Gasol finished with another double double (18 points and 10 rebounds). Derek Fisher (11 points) hit some big shots. And Matt Barnes finished with 10 points.
The Lakers finished with 24 assists so I really like that they trust each other out there on the court. After a slow start, the Lakers outboarded the Hornets, 44-34 (11-5 on the offensive end). And they really bore down defensively in the 2nd half. L.A held N’Awlins to 16 points (8/19 shooting) in the 3rd quarter. Not counting OT, the Hornets only scored 39 points in the 3rd and 4th quarters combined.
Somehow, the Lakers found their Gummi Berry Juice in that second half.
You can definitely tell the Lakers looked tired early. The Hornets shot above 60 percent in the first half and put the Lakers in a double digit hole. And the reason why Laker fans are clamoring for more point guard help? In the first half, Jarrett Jack made his first 8 shots (his ninth was a 3-pointer that missed) and back-up Greivis Vasquez made his first four. Jarrett Jack eventually finished with 30 points (even though it did get tougher for him in the 2nd half) with Vasquez chipping in 15. So when your opposing PGs score 45 on you, well… you either find a new PG or quit life (no, I’m kidding but…).
It was really mostly in the first half that the Hornets looked like worldbeaters but Chris Kaman was getting into the paint easily (13 of his 21 in the first two quarters). It’s like my 5’7″ self was guarding him. It was a combination of the Hornets taking advantage of the tired Laker legs and making nearly everything from the perimeter. So in a way, it was a bit encouraging that we knew the Hornets weren’t likely going to keep that pace up. Going into this game, the Hornets were averaging a whopping 88.2 points per game (good for 29th in the league).
The bench finished with 13 points (10 from Barnes, 3 from Steve Blake). And Mike Brown went back to Jason Kapono again instead of Andrew Goudelock. So what did Jason Kapono do again in this game?
Once again, this seems like a product of tired legs in the first half… but the Lakers turned the ball over 19 times. 12 giveaways in the first half and 8 of those came from the second quarter.
But it, at least, made for an awesome comeback in the second half, right? What? You don’t like come-from-behind victories as opposed to Laker blowout wins? Sorry. Neither do I, actually, when it comes to these Lakers.
THE PLAY OF THE GAME
So much to pick from. I can pick from one of the Pau/Drew alley-oops. Or Kobe throwing it down like he’s 21 again. Or Andrew Bynum packing the hell out of Jeff Foote’s (who?) hook shot. But I’ll give it to big-play Ron Artest, er, Metta World Peace with the steal and the breakaway lay-up that put the Lakers up 3 in OT. I can’t say enough on how he’s been coming through as of late. Metta has to think that every game from here on out is a big game.
The Lakers go back to the very comfortable Staples Center, where they’ve only had 2 blemishes in 20 contests. They have the Ricky Rubio-less Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Still, these guys are fighting for a playoff spot and Kevin Love isn’t exactly a chicken sandwich. It should be another hard-fought battle at Staples.
Two personal notes from me. 1) I can’t wait for Thursday to be done. I mostly hate (kinda like) the trade deadline so I’ll be glad when that’s over with. And 2) the last six games I was scheduled to do recap duty here, the Lakers won. I’m jinxing myself now, aren’t I? I’ll just shut up about this.
By Friday, we may have some new pieces! Let’s see what happens next!
Lakers are now only two games behind #2 San Antonio. The Lakers face the Spurs three times in April.