Preview and Chat: The New Orleans Hornets

Emile Avanessian —  March 14, 2012

Records: Lakers: 26-16 (3rd in West), Hornets: 10-32 (15th in West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers: 104.1 (14th in NBA), Hornets: 99.1 (29th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers: 101.4 (9th in NBA), Hornets: 104.9 (17th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Hornets: Jarrett Jack, Marco Belinelli, Al-Farouq Aminu, Gustavo Ayon, Chris Kaman
Injuries: Lakers: none; Hornets: Eric Gordon (out), Emeka Okafor (out), Carl Landry (questionable)

The Lakers Coming In: On the eve of a trade deadline that is looks to be less eventful than originally expected, I imagine one question more than any other is ricocheting inside the heads of much of Laker Nation… how the hell is this season going so well?

Amid an unrelenting barrage of speculation and innuendo, the Lakers, on the heels of the season’s most impressive road victory, cruise into the Crescent City winners of three straight and seven of ten, two games clear of the Clippers for the Pacific Division’s top spot and two behind the Spurs for #2 in the West. Behind a monstrous effort from Andrew Bynum (37 points, on 15-of-18 from the field, and 16 rebounds), a strong showing by Steve Blake (9-5-5, with three 3-pointers) a 34-9-5 from Kobe Bryant, the Lakers successfully kicked off a vital 20-day stretch –12 games, all against Western Conference opposition, eight featuring opponents currently less than three games out of a playoff spot. This is one of the gimmes.

Unfortunately, Laker teams of the past (like, last week) have assembled an impressive legacy of stumbling in games exactly like this one…

The Hornets Coming In: On this night, however, the Lakers encounter an opponent with interests perfectly aligned with their own.

From the moment in December that Chris Paul was Western-bound, the Hornets sights were set squarely on the lottery. A seemingly foolproof plan to secure two of the first 10 selections in June’s draft fizzling further with each Timberwolves win, it is now more important than ever for these Hornet to maintain their focus and probe as deep into the standing as possible. Winners of less than a quarter of their 42 games, the Hornets – despite the best efforts of Jarrett Jack, surprise rookie Gustavo Ayon and, when allowed, Chris Kaman – ensconced in the Western Conference cellar, will have their sights set on the lofty depths currently inhabited by the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Bobcats, who, respectively, trail the Nola by one and four games.

Apologies for the flippancy, but there is precious little drama to be found in the story of a team whose primary objective over the next 20 hours will be to jettison a pair of NBA-caliber (good, even!) centers in exchange for as little as possible.

Hornets Blogs: Both At The Hive and Hornets247 do an excellent job covering the Hornets. Give these guys a read.

Keys to the Game: Show up. Sorry, there I go again.

The Hornets’ three biggest strengths – an immense body in the middle capable of making Andrew Bynum works for his touches, a physical point guard and a long and athletic wing defender – do happen to coincide with the to-do list for defeating the Lakers. Additionally, Wednesday night represents the trio’s final opportunity to showcase their respective abilities to potential saviors, err, acquirers, prior to the deadline.

But seriously, provided the Lakers are mentally present and focused on Wednesday night, there is no reason to expect anything other than an uneventful, businesslike victory.

Where You Can Watch: 5pm start time on KCAL. Also listen at ESPN Radio 710AM.

Emile Avanessian

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114 responses to Preview and Chat: The New Orleans Hornets

  1. More concerned with minutes than W/L actually…

  2. Kobe, Pau, espicially Drew need to play no more than 35 mins.

    Watch 2 play 40+

  3. I think the minutes will depend on how close the game is. If it is a blowout and MB still has Kobe, Bynum or Gasol logging heavy minutes, it will be a pretty clear indication he is out of touch with the reality of this season and what it will take to win in the playoffs.

  4. I hope that Bynum is a beast and the big three play no more than 35 minutes each.

    Go Lakers!

  5. @4 – after having watched this team for the last 3 years, do you have any reason to think that we’ll not have to put in the starters in the 4th quarter to salvage the big lead we slacked off on?

  6. Kobe Alert: He will move into 7th (Peja) all time in 3PFGA’s with his first attempt. Only needs 20 more FT’s to catch MJ for 4th all time. He needs 3 Def Rebs to moved past our M Thompson for 75th all time.

  7. Not an auspicious start.

  8. Eh, coming out flat against a bad team the night after a 2OT road slugfest is not surprising. Hopefully we’ll buckle down

  9. yea Kobes – he is now 7 all time in 3 point attempts – good to do it on a make : )

  10. Blake is in !

  11. understandable lack of energy, o well not gonna complain to much if we lose this

  12. Jarrett Jack could average 40 pts a game if he were a little bit selfish and got to play against our PGs every night. smh

  13. after playing 52 mins night before Brown plays Kobe the whole 1st quarter. SMDH

  14. TAKE BYNUM OUT THE GAME BROWN!!!

  15. Brown at times coaches as if he has a one-year, rather than a three-year, deal.

  16. @17, James – We need a statue like Kapono in the game, especially because he shoots worse than Goudelock and can’t create his own shot.

  17. Now in the game for LA, Jason Kapono….wait, what?

    What is Brown doing? Kapono should have a well-molded seat next to Luke at the end of the bench. What did Goudelock do to deserve this random burn he’s getting?

  18. I know that we supposedly have a good defense, but where did it go?

  19. My thoughts in the car 30 minutes prior to start of the game: Jarrett Jack is one of those players who always has great games against us. All we need to do is stop him.

    Riiiiiight..

    For all those clamoring for Goudelock, remember that he is being hidden for the time being. He’ll be our savior once trade deadline passes.

  20. They are shooting a paltry 59.3% right now. Come on guys lets get that down to 55!

  21. I get why the players complaints saying Brown rode them too hard.

    There is no incentive of playing your horses 40 minutes tonight.

  22. Greivis Vasquez was the final piece of the Pau trade for Memphis. He was the 2010 late 1st-round pick…and he’s a substantially better PG than any of ours, with a PER of 14.35 and more length on defense.

  23. Actually, KenOak you brought up a key stat. If you are shooting 60% at home and are only up by seven, you should be a little nervous about what will happen if you regress to normal as the game goes on.

    I had hoped that Bynum would come out tonight looking hungry, but tough to tell so far. He isn’t getting the same touches tonight.

    Dude, don’t be telling the truth about the Pau trade or you’ll wreck the narrative….

  24. All right FB&Gers! It’s time to play that game we all know and love..(cue the cheesy gameshow music) It’s time to play All-Star roulette! That’s right. Which opposing player is going to look like an All-Star against our team tonight. It looks like Chris Kaman has a great chance so far! Jarrett Jack is also looking to sneak into the discussion!

  25. A double overtime game on the first night of a back 2 back definitely having an effect on this 1st half.

  26. MWP is now guarding Jarrett Jack. Our PG defense is so bad that we have to cross-match our 260-pound forward onto their PG. Pathetic. I really, really hope that this is the final game we have to put up with this.

  27. Pls Mitch, you have 13 hrs. Deliver us a Point Guard.

  28. Yeah Jarrett Jack has jumped well ahead of Chris Kaman now folks!

  29. i know this is hardly a surpising scorline but this must surely be the lowest point for our point guards

  30. I should have kept my mouth shut about the Hornets shooting “regressing to the mean”—since my trap flapped, they have increased their FG% by two points to 61.5. Terrible D.

  31. Tra: Mitch has 18 hours – not 13 – he may need those extra 5 hours : )

    Dude: You seem a little frustrated tonight : ) Do you really think we add an avg PG + Voila !! Banner !! ? : )

  32. Competitive 1st half from the lakers they’re playing hard. Hornets just have more energy

  33. @27, KenOak – Kaman has been an All Star before, and I’ll give Drew and Pau a break because they played heavy minutes last night and Kaman is a physical load. On the other hand, Jarrett Jack could score in his sleep against us.

  34. I mean – I guess it could go down like that – I do remind myself every game that
    We have Kobe and nobody else does !!

  35. @34, Robert – Yes. If Fish ends up as our backup, he can do much better against physical but less quick PGs like Vasquez than Blake can, simply because Fish is stronger. It’s both the little jitterbugs and the physical + quick PGs that give Fish trouble. Not too many of the last two types are backups, and the ones that are, ain’t great shooters, which lets Fish go under the screens.

  36. Frank the Tank March 14, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Maybe were trading Glock and thats why he isnt playing

  37. Yes! Cross matching FTW!

  38. MWP is a waste of space

  39. maybe portland should trade for jarret jack.

  40. FWIW Crawford hasn’t played for Portland tonight…

  41. I like the way Lakers are playing. Gutting it out right now. Very Nice

  42. Metta please stop shooting

  43. Kobe: just went by 30 minutes; he also went by Michael Thompson on the all time def rebs list

  44. whoomp. there it is.

  45. Common recipie for success two nights in a row. A big second-half surge built on staying the course, forcing the other team to take contested jumpers, and attacking the paint to put the other team in the early penalty so you get to the line. Second night in a row I want to tell the other team’s announcers–”You won’t get to the line when you are jacking jumpers”

  46. Brown is really going to run the big 3 into the ground

  47. Brown doesnt have a choice of resting Kobe. If LA loses games trying to rest #24 they may not make the playoffs in a crowded West. Cant blame Brown, the onus is on the FO for not having any scoring coming off the bench.

  48. Assuming the big three play this out, on pace for 42, 41, and 38 for Kobe, Drew, and Pau respectively

  49. The minutes of the Big 3 must be factored in when we determine how good the Lakers will be at the end of the year. On the other hand, if anyone can play minutes like this and still be fresh – it would be KB so maybe we only have to worry about the Bigs : )

  50. links anyone?

  51. Why is fish in the game?

  52. i just don’t understand why they never run a play whenever they get a chance to take a lead. Either kobe forces it or derek fisher decides to be the hero. Instead of running a play through bynum and gasol kobe decides to go one on five and turns it over.

  53. James Worthy wants the Lakers, “to release the Kracken!”

    The Kracken is released! Bynum believes!

    It’s good to be lucky.

  54. MB needs to cross-match Ron-Ron on Jack again. Ariza is not going to dominate every possession by posting up Fisher.

  55. Disappointing loss

  56. Fisher takes so long to get us into our sets, its infuriating

  57. Frank the Tank March 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Bynum with the clutch block and Kobe for 3! FTs that is, but ill take it.

  58. loss? am i missing something?

  59. Dude: Please moderate the site and delete @61 : )

  60. anonymous is this your first basketball game? seconds are an eternity

  61. Frank the Tank March 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    Give it to Kobe! or maybe a quick hook by drew

  62. Dodged a bullet there. No idea why MB took out Pau and left Fish in for that final defensive possession.

  63. ken 2.0: yes you are + so am I – we are missing the name of the poster @61

  64. OT once again for the Lakers.

  65. I like the fact that Pau attempted the Game Tying three :D
    Reminds me of the Three shot by Tim Duncan against the Nash-Shaq Suns in the playoffs.

  66. Now the question is whether LA has the legs in their 3rd OT session in 24 hours…

  67. Frank the Tank March 14, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Another OT game? sheesh. At least we dont play again tomorrow. Ill be impressed if we get this. It looks like its hard for our team to play a full game.. but id rather have them storm back and win at the end then drop ones to teams like the wizards.

  68. Drew was wide open for the lob on that final shot by Kobe.

    Re post #61 – Why not leave it up there for posterity? :)

  69. KB 43 mins AB 41

    And counting

  70. Wow – now that is part of what I live for

  71. Pau is such a dufus

  72. Ron Artest with the steal and makes the layup.

  73. Fish and then MWP!

  74. Frank the Tank March 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm

    Say what you will about Crazy Pills, but he is a clutch MFer on defense. Fantastic OT

  75. To think I tuned out in the second half thinking it was over….

  76. This game’s in the refrigerator: the door is closed, the lights are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard, and the Jell-O’s jigglin’!

  77. Kobe only went 49 minutes tonight

    See MB kept him under 50 : )

  78. 25 and 18 for Drew tonight. Dwight Who?!

  79. Always good to beat Stern’s team.

    The minutes worry me.

  80. World Peace!

  81. I’m believing what this team is selling

  82. Focus Kevin we have 16 hours

  83. Good win

    Great night

    The whole pipedream is back on the table

  84. Frank the Tank March 14, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    The thing to take away from wins like this is that yes we have less talent then previous years, but we are battle tested and will be a very tough out in the playoffs. If we upgrade our PG and bench just a little we make at least the WCF

  85. Metta with an assist, a bucket, a block, and a board in the last minute of play… unbelievable!

  86. I’m sure that the doctor in Germany is getting tons of business now…

  87. rr

    Hopefully the FO will have addressed the bench and pg by tommorrow. Minutes are clearly a big issue, the FO has to see that this cant continue happening if this team wants to make a run.

  88. Bottom Line: In the 31 career games Andrew Bynum’s line features 20 or more points & 10 or more rebounds, the Lakers are 25 & 6, .806 ball baby. Sounds like a winning formula to me:

    http://bkref.com/tiny/JVLTP

  89. Dude,
    Hahahahahahahahahahaha. I was watching the game at a Resteraunt and I told my dad “it’s beyond sad our linebacker of a forward has to guard the other teams PG. beyond sad”

  90. Robert: still stand by my premise. This team has looked together since washington. Impressed

  91. Kobe played 100mins in a back to back game. Talk about “efficiency”!

  92. Lakers are definitely not dominating, still leading the pacific, 3rd in west, and dominant at home.

    Confused why Brown called a TO at the end of overtime w/ 3 pt lead and 22 seconds left… NO HAD to foul, and an inbounds allows the possibility of a stolen inbounds… Someone explain why that was a necessary time out?

  93. man, i hope goudelock is not a part of this beasley deal. he’s a keeper.

  94. Agree with james worthy on kcal, dont need trades, we might not have the best record but this team can compete with every team.

  95. Kevin: We are buddies – you were talking about rebuild last week – true? : ) You can come back from the brink of rebuild (which was going too far). But at least stay with me for 16 hours – we need help – and Mitch knows this.

  96. Really like the decisiveness and crisp plays Lakers are running. Lakers aren’t looking like a 2nd round out anymore. Still need some more firepower.

    chibi: they trading goudelock for who?

    robert: i was now i’m stepping back off the ledge. The team looks different that film session they had must’ve really hashed some things out. Been playing great ball since then.

  97. @99 – Lesser coaches overcoach, it’s that simple. MB did exactly what Vinny Del Negro does at the end of games. Fortunately it didn’t come back and bite us, because MWP is a very good inbounds passer. What VDN consistently does at the end of games is bring in his worst rotation player (and poor passer) Ryan Gomes cold off the bench to make the inbounds pass, after only having played five minutes or so total. Gomes then throws away the inbounds pass (he’s done it three times this season when he’s been substituted in at crunch time for this exact purpose). The Clips then either lose the game, or get forced into OT off Gomes’ turnover.

    In this case, MB called a potentially disastrous time out when a decent FT shooter (Fish) had the ball in the backcourt with 22 seconds on the shot clock. Did MB think we might not be able to get it across the eight second line in time?

  98. Even if he thinks that, he should wait 7 seconds and then call time out.. Terrible decision by Brown there, we lucked out.

  99. The new rule permitting coaches to call timeouts gives an unfair advantage to teams with really good coaches (SAS, CHI, MIA, MIN, BOS). :D

  100. Chicago leading Miami by 11 pts after 3rd qrtr.

  101. Dude Abides,

    MB calls an out of bounds play with 2 seconds in regulation that gets the best scorer in the league a wide open baseline look which he misses……

    Is that another example of MB’s “over coaching” ?

    Cuz to my eye, that looked like a pretty doggone good play.

  102. Obviously he wasn’t criticizing brown in that instance, but on the bad timeout call. You have to admit that was pretty boneheaded for a coach who has made the finals

  103. @The Dude Abides to top the it all MB went all in and used all the remainig Laker TO by using tge remaining 20 sec. TO. I was saying to myself what the heck if we turn the ball over and NO makes a three and ties the game with few seconds left on the clock. We have no more TO left for the last play and to advance the Ball. Good thing Luck was on ourside this game.

  104. Kevin,

    66 game season starting Xmas day with no preseason.

    Anything can happen in this kind of a year!

    There is no certainty about the post season at all. Expect anything this year.

    BTW, you may well be pulling your hair out again next week over this team.

    Just remember so is every other fan base. if I was a Heat fan I’d be beside myself these days with the way they’re playing.

    But it seems like all the teams will have their turn in the barrel.

  105. Frank,

    I’m just pointing out that it can go both ways when you’re in the middle of a back to back on the road with the first game going to double overtime and then tonight overtime again.

    He made a poor decision there. But he also made some good ones too.

    i don’t see this example as being particularly indicative of a coach with a serious micro management problem which I understood was the point he was making.

  106. We played 10 guys tonight but two of them played 4 minutes. So really, we played 8 guys tonight.

    Is Ebanks hurt/out of the league?
    Is McRob in the doghouse?
    What happened to Darius Morris?

    I appreciate the win, but the Lakers looked absolutely dead as they were finishing this game.

    The next step in their evolution has to be being able to win and also utilize some bench so that the bench can grow into real NBA players.

  107. I actually think brown is underrated as a coach, and if we get a decent pg and some help for the bench, the Lakers can easily go on a tear. I didn’t get that from what he said, I don’t think brown has micro management problems, if anything he’s shown a willingness to loosen the reins a bit with this veteran team; but he has definitely made some questionable decisions at times, almost like brain farts. Laker fans have been spoiled in recent years in regards to the coaching situation.

  108. who said MWP is a waste of space?…LOL

  109. @82Glove, Chick reference, the Lakers are baaaacckkk! That is, until the next game.

    Every coach has growing pains, not unless their name is Pat Riley and they happen to have a coach on the floor in their pg. Any good pg makes their coaches look great, think Nash, Parker, Rondo, Rose, CP3, Deron. They are all coaches on the floor.

    Had MB played more guys off the bench and lost this game, the thinking would be: “Why’d he play those guys, the Lakers need to win on the road.”

    Blake has to get his legs ready to contribute for long stretches. So, he has to play in games like the last two, just as Fisher has done all these years.

    Somehow, the Lakers have to build a marketing campaign around Ron, oops MWP as a defensive wizard. If he starts getting attention for his defensive contributions all season long, MWP might have a reason to get excited about playing defense. Playing defense is not considered a glamorous part of basketball, that’s why soooo many players don’t do it. Rally around MWP the way fans used to for Dennis Rodman.

    Minnesota will not know what hit them on Friday when Pau takes the floor as a Laker. He’s going to go into all-star mode.

    Here’s to hoping the Lakers strengthen their bench without messing up the chemistry of the team.

  110. http://espn.go.com/los-angeles/nba/story/_/id/7689325/sources-los-angeles-lakers-heating-trade-talks-minnesota-timberwolves-michael-beasley

    Sorry if this is trade speculation, delete if you must, but i figure if it’s posted on ESPN.com its at least somewhat legit.

    Beasley shooting 43% from 3 for the year. I think being surrounded with the winning culture in LA and especially being around Kobe could do wonders for his dedication and commitment to the game. I’ve got my fingers crossed..

  111. Jarrett Jack sure would look good in a Laker uniform. He reminds me of a young Fish with a taste of Chauncey Billups.

    I thought The Show was exceptional these last 2 games. They overcame all their faults and flaws, hung tough and found a way to win. These are the type of games that help to develop team character and chemistry.