Preview & Chat: The New Orleans Hornets

Darius Soriano —  April 9, 2012

Records: Lakers 35-22 (3rd in the West), Hornets 15-41 (15th in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.8 (11th in the NBA), Hornets 100.6 (29th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.7 (13th in the NBA), Hornets 105.9 (20th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Ramon Sessions, Devin Ebanks, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Hornets: Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Jason Smith, Chris Kaman
Injuries: Lakers: Kobe Bryant (out); Hornets: Jarrett Jack (out), Chris Johnson (doubtful), Emeka Okafor (out)

The Lakers come into this game losers of two straight, even with the Clippers in the loss column, and banged up with Kobe set to miss his second straight game and Ramon Sessions favoring his sprained left shoulder. Said another way, the outlook isn’t too positive. And while games like the one tonight serve as an opportunity – for Gasol to continue his strong play, for Bynum to get on track, for Ebanks to show he might be worthy of a rotation spot – the Lakers must seize the chances in front of them rather than allow them to linger out of their grasp.

Tonight’s foe, meanwhile, is wrapping up a season that has been in dire straits from the get go. A trade of a franchise player and countless injuries that have shuffled the lineup on a nearly nightly basis has made this year one to forget for the league owned Hornets. And the news just got worse for them today as Jarrett Jack was diagnosed with a stress fracture that will keep him sidelined the remainder of the year. Par for the course, for the Hornets it seems.

The good news for New Orleans is that Eric Gordon should be available to play tonight. And with his inclusion in the lineup, the Hornets have a ballast for their perimeter offense that can make up for Jack being out. As we remember from his days with the Clippers, Gordon is a well rounded offensive threat that can do everything well on offense and be threat from nearly everywhere on the court and in almost every circumstance. He can hit spot up jumpers, can attack the basket, handle in the P&R, create shots off the dribble, and be a playmaker for his teammates. While I expect some rust on his game, he’s a talent that must be taken seriously on O. Back when Gordon was with the Clips, Ron would guard him most of the time with Kobe sliding over to Ariza. I expect this trend to continue tonight, with Ebanks sliding over to guard his doppleganger. Ron will need to body Gordon off the ball and funnel him to his help on the ball to limit him.

The rest of the Hornets offense will be dictated by Vasquez running P&R’s and Kaman operating in the post. Vasquez is limited athletically but offers good size and a ton of craftiness. He’ll change speeds, go opposite the screen if he sees an opening, and use his body to create space so he can get all the way to the rim or hit his teammates for an open look. His ability to do a bit of everything on O means he must be respected so Sessions will need to be alert and active on D. As for Kaman, he’s been playing well in the latter part of the season, showing why a lot of contenders were hopeful he’d be bought out and become a free agent. He’ll look to isolate in the post and is comfortable turning and facing to shoot his jumper or backing his man down into a range where he can shoot his jump hook over either shoulder. Bynum should be able to keep Kaman off the spots where he’s most comfortable, but work will need to be done early in possessions by big Drew. This means changing ends from O to D with purpose and not getting caught up arguing calls or trailing behind the play on D.

Offensively, with Kobe out, the Lakers must work inside out even more frequently. Both Bynum and Pau have distinct advantages over their men, especially in the areas of quickness and length. If both can get up court quickly, both should be able to get into spots on the floor where they can get good shots before the defense is fully set up. This is especially true for Bynum against Kaman. Drew can exploit Kaman by getting to the box early and then using his superior size to establish the post and get easy shots.

As for Pau, is he’s a trailer, it sets him up perfectly to shoot his mid range jumper against a sagging defense and then use the threat of that shot to keep running hard and get all the way to the block as the defense concentrates on Bynum. Pau trailing also sets up great opportunities to run early offense P&R’s where Sessions can get going. Neither Smith nor Kaman have great foot speed and both can be beaten off the dribble by Sessions when he looks to turn the corner. If Pau can get a good angle on his picks, Sessions should be able to get into threatening spots on the floor where he can make shot/pass decisions much more easily.

The last thing I’ll be looking for on offense is how Ron plays against Trevor. These guys often go at each other whenever they’re matched up, as the bad blood from free agency still exists. With Ron playing well lately, I hope he’ll look for his offense on weak side duck ins and power post ups off cuts (like he’s been doing for several games now). His strength advantage is large against most SF’s but especially against Ariza and with Kobe out, his offense will be needed tonight.

Where you can watch: 5:00PM start time on KCAL. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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83 responses to Preview & Chat: The New Orleans Hornets

  1. Let’s be honest with ourselves… If Metta World Peace is gonna be the Ron Artest of three years ago and we have an 8 man rotation of Bynum, Kobe, Sessions, Gasol, Artest, Barnes, Hill, and GLock/Morris who would you honestly say would you bet on to beat the Lakers in a best of seven series? Really look at that potential 8 man rotation for the playoffs.

  2. They say 3rd quarter is the quarter of adjustments. Since March 7 Lakers are getting wacked in 3rd quarters.

    Out of 19 games Lakers have lost 12 3rd quarters by avg. 7 points. That may point to getting outcoached. 2 ties in 3rd.

    In the 5 3rd quarter Lakers have won the opp. coach has been Vinny, M. Jackson, Minnesota 2x, Hornets.

  3. Aaron: The Lakers are not going to be a severe underdog to anyone, as you state. The problem is that they also will not be a significant favorite over anyone either (especially on the road). By simple math, if you are more/less a toss up in every round, your odds of winning the title are about 6%.

  4. @ Aaron:

    Barring injury, doubt we’ll see any parts of GLock, Hill or Morris n the ‘offs. So that’s a huge If on your part. Hoping that Ebanks has another good game tonight, therefore swaying Coach Brown into alloting him some mins within the rotation even upon Kobe’s return.

    Important that we start to get our Defensive Swag back. If Drew can excert just half of the energy that he puts forth on Offense to the Defensive end of the court, that’ll go a long way towards our Team Defense improving.

    Also will have 1 eye on that Clippers-Grizzlies game for obvious reasons. We need this one tonight for sure.

  5. R.R. Magellan April 9, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    The Clippers can take the 3rd seed with their win over Memphis AND a Laker loss against the Hornets. Even with Jarrett Jack out, the Lakers have a penchant of letting guys get their career highs in scoring. It wasn’t as if Steve Nash killed the Lakers in Phoenix; it was Shannon Brown, Michael Redd, and Sebastian Telfair. So the Lakers better hope to stop Gustavo Ayon from scoring 50 tonight.

    Also, Eric Gordon is a game-time decision. It makes the Hornets’ task harder. All I’m asking from the Lakers here is that they don’t underestimate them.

    That’s asking for a lot.

  6. Tra,
    That’s how most people see the world. You’re not alone. You see the promotion of GLock/Morris and Jordan Hill as a big if. Most people do. Transversly I see the demotion of Blake/McBob/Murphy as a lesser if than the former. I will always bet on a coach benching D League level players as the playoffs near with all the money on the line. Always. People always don’t expect change for some reason even though the odds are usually in favor of constant change. So no… I do not think its as big of an if as most poeple.

  7. I truly want the Lakers to blow this team away tonight. I normally don’t. But there’s really only one way to blow out a team: Don’t let their offense function.

    The biggest problem for this Lakers team since the Trade Deadline (and maybe a lil before then) is their inability to play a good team defense. If the bigs can really bring their help defense to a new level.

    Good things I’ve seen from the last two games (even though they were losses) have been Blake only playing PG and no more sessions/blake backcourt duo; MWP’s flashback to Ron Ron offensively; McRoberts activity on both sides of the floor and Pau’s offensive aggression.

    If that can continue and added Bynum’s normal offensive output and hopefully an uptick of defensive urgency from both Bynum and Pau, that should lead to good results.

  8. As long as the Lakers stay ahead of the Clippers in the standings, I’ll be content.

    I’d like to see Hill play over Murphy tonight. Makes you wonder if the trade sending Pau away to get CP3 had gone through, then who would the Lakers have as Bynum’s backup. Pau has not gotten enough appreciation for playing out of position without complaint.

    Lamar stepped in and out of the starting lineup, plugging into what ever position the Lakers asked of him and never complained. Thank you, Lamar I hope you work hard between now and the next season to land on a good team. I know you have a good 4-5 years left to make an impact on a team. I miss ya!

    Lakers win tonight, Lakers win tonight, Lakers win tonight!

  9. Tra,
    Btw… I’m responding to you because you asked a great question. It’s a valid question. I just happen to disagree with that assertion. In fact… I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike Brown make the rotation changes I listed above this very afternoon. It’s a weak team we are playin without Kobe. So when we destroy them with the young guys Mike Brown can point to the results and continue to bench the bad veterans. Just a thought.

  10. Meanwhile, Popovich is resting Duncan, Parker and Ginobili again tonight . . .

  11. Let’s see; the Lakers are hanging on to the 5th best record league wide (by a toenail, if that) and are outscoring their oppenents by an average of 2.1 points per game.

    That’s pretty underwhelming, and not much cause for optimism come playoff time.

  12. 11, there’s been very little mentioned of the fact that SA has rested the big three as often as they have. not only is that a good idea, one can only wonder how many games they would be ahead of OKC if they played their stars all the time….

  13. 11)
    I’ve actually never given my opinion on this. I think it’s usually a bad idea to rest starters a lot until the last few games so they can recharge. Your best pkayers need to play 40 plus minutes in the playoffs. You need to get them in that kind of game shape.

  14. Loving Bynum’s energy so far.

  15. Spurs was #1 seed in the western conference last year, and they lost to Memphis in the 1st round. just saying……

  16. Ebanks may yet become an Nba player if he can become a consistent shooter

  17. @ Aaron:

    I understand your thinking, but I believe it’s kind of hard to expect playoff contributions from 2 individuals (Hill & Morris) who haven’t given us anything all season and another (GLock) who has been DNP’d CD for around 2 months now.

    Ebanks, on the other hand, might be making a case for some burn n the ‘offs!

  18. Tra,
    There is now were for Ebanks to play. Only and 8 man rotation in the playoffs and Matt Barnes is the back up SG/SF and has been our best bench player by far this season. Also… If Phil Jackson can dust off rookie Luke Walton in the NBA Finals in 2004… I think Mike Brown can do the same. A guy who doesn’t hate rookies as much.

  19. Anybody that says Pau isn’t Lakers 2nd best player doesn’t know hoops.

  20. Pau Gasol sure is consistent. On both ends of the floor. He can’t play in the low post on offense or defense… But against 6-6 Carl Landry?

  21. Kevin,
    You probably just might of removed yourself from the “knows hoops category”.

  22. Aaron: probably did. i know franchise player 1-4 5 pts 2 reb

  23. @ Aaron:

    We’ll see how it plays out. Also, Coach Brown definitely doesn’t hate Rookies as much as Phil did (which coach does), but he sure hasn’t had much use for them for the majority of this season.

  24. Tra,
    We will see. I will always have faith that an experienced NBA coach won’t be a moron in the end ;)

  25. Pretty crummy half for the Lakers there.

    If only they had an all-star center out on the floor to play some defense and draw some fouls…

    Wait…

  26. BTW: Bears up by 11 @ the half against our co-tenants.

  27. Don’t think Bynum likes being the 1st option much. Getting exposed. Great foul btw another cheap foul on a guard. tv diminishing by the minute.

    I said it and continue to say it bynum is not that good.

  28. Kevin,
    Kobe shot 3 for 22 two times this season. You are not serious are you? This is one half. Take the entire season (bigger sample size). Every advanced stat shows Bynum is a much much better player than Pau Gasol this season. Take his first half. The hornets are guarding Gasol one on one with Carl Landry. And Gasol so far is 2 for seven in those situations. Most of his baskets came on spot of 18 footers. Transversely look at Bynum. The hornets are doubling him every time he touches the ball. And let’s not even talk about defense. Don’t get me wrong… Gasol is great on the permiter defensively and in the high post. But he can’t play low post defense against many players including 6-6 Carl Landry.

  29. Kobe relished those games when Shaq sat out. Going off on opponents to show Shaq how good he was from the sidelines. I don’t see that same fire from Bynum he’s just another guy.

    Aaron: Can’t keep comparing Kobe to Bynum it’s not fair to Kobe seriously. Bynum is supposed to dominate these guys he wanted more shots he’s got them and wants to be the franchise player you show off in these games. He is still sluggish out there. He has to find a way to be effective he hasn’t so far.

  30. Aaron,
    Sooner or later you’re going to have to acknowledge that one of the reasons Bynum sees so many double teams is because he’s still struggling dealing with them. He had a nice stretch in making the double team pay about a month ago but since that time he’s reverted to not making the simple play often enough.

    He’s getting doubled not just because he’s an excellent player and a threat to score against single coverage but also because he’s not making the defense pay for doubling him. That’s the difference between what Bynum is now, and what he can be. All of the great big men: Shaq, Duncan, Hakeem, Jabbar, etc, etc made it so doubling them consistently led to the right play being made and thus it really was a pick your poison with them. Bynum is simply succumbing to the double team now and the defense is winning because of it.

    (As an aside, this doesn’t mean Bynum’s not making the right play sometimes. He made an excellent skip pass to Ron after getting doubled. My point is, he’s not making that play often enough and it’s why the double keeps on coming.)

  31. Darius,
    @ESPNLandOLakers: Bynum’s work passing out of traffic has led to a lot of good looks thus far. BK

  32. Aaron,

    Your Bynum man crush is overblown. He’s being guarded by Chris Kaman.

    In Phoenix he was being guarded by Gortat.
    Against Houston, he was being guarded by Dalembert.

    These are not elite players he is struggling against – these are middle of the pack big guys at best.

    Thats not a superstar.

  33. At some point some people are going to have to acknowledge that the reason Bynum is now getting doubled almost all the time is because he has become the best low post player in the NBA.

  34. SESSIONS SMASH

  35. Forget I said anything. Because one tweet from the Land O Lakers guy totally erases my entire point. I should have known that some good looks is all that matters!

  36. CDog,
    Honestly. Have you watched the games and not just looked at the box scores? I know you haven’t because I know you know basketball. And I know if you have watched the games you would know Bynum isn’t playing against those Centers. He is being swarmed by defenses. We have seen what happens when he actually plays quality Centers like Marc Gasol and Deandre Jordan. Teams try and single cover him and Bynum shoots 75 percent and scores 35 points.

  37. its getting ugly again……

  38. Lakers recent third quarter woes continue

  39. Once again that Bynum guy is showing his absolute dominance down low. No more days off Kobe!

  40. Lakers don’t deserve to be in the playoffs if they lose tonight.

  41. I leave to do grocery shopping and i come back to this score. I take it we’re not playing defense well at all tonight?

  42. So why is Bynum 5-14? (Honest question, I’m not watching the game). Is he getting good looks and they’re just not falling? Or is he again trying to score against 2-3 defenders when the easier play is to pass out?

    Stat of the day (I believe from Beckley Mason): the Spurs have seven players shooting over 37% from 3. Having some of those would help our post players too.

  43. Now 13 out of last 20 3rd qtrs. Lakers have been outscored. Last 3: 29 – 21, 37 – 26, 34 – 22. Brown has to make adjustments.

    After last 2 Hornets game Brown still won’t take Blake off Vasquez.

  44. Darius,
    Why I think you’re wrong is not because the KBros tweeted how many open looks the Lakers are getting ecause of Bynum effectively passing out of double teams… It’s because he has been effectively passing out of double teams.

  45. After 3, our Co-Tenants still down by 11 to those Grizzly Bears from Memphis.

  46. More than double teams down low the Lakers are facing zones, specifically the 2-3 zone. If a player in the post receives the ball down low 2-3 men are always within close proximity. Couple that with the fact that Bynum doesn’t know what to do with the ball in the post when double teamed, a team will double and triple team him all game long.

    You always zone a team that has no outside shooters, basketball 101.

    A big man that got butchered every game and teams devised defenses for: Dr. Shaquille O’Neal.

    Pau!

    Once again the Lakers Achilles Heel is exposed: No interior defense and no perimeter defense=A loss

  47. Blake is such a big waste of space out there. He’s f**king open and doesn’t shoot. I hate him.

  48. GLock/Morris/ and Hill better turn out to be awful NBA players for Blake, Murphy/McBob to be getting minutes.

  49. Lakers inability to force turnovers if catching up to them. Lakers being outscored by 8 points off of turnovers so far in this game (12 to 4) with a 6 point game at the 7:25 mark in the 4thQ

  50. Aaron,
    He makes good passes…sometimes. Sometimes, even when he makes the right pass, it’s late and the D is able to recover. Other times, he makes the absolute wrong play. You know, you can admit he’s not perfect at everything and also admit that if he made the right play more, he’d see less doubles. Not even Shaq was doubled as often as Drew is and that has nothing to do with the relative abilities of each player to score the ball.

  51. Hornets bigs are taking Pau to the woodshed. Pau never stops playing hard though. Having a off night still being aggressive.

    Where is Sessions??

  52. But Darius,

    Every advanced statistic shows that Bynum is the best player on the Lakers AND the best big man.

  53. Steve Blake draws the offensive foul-charge- good job.

  54. Darius,
    Haha. I never said he was perfect. But he only had a two week stretch at the start of the year where he made bad decisions out of hard double teams. That was it. Since then he has been good to very good.

  55. Gasol with the block leads to a Ron Artest three that gives the Lakers the lead by 3.

  56. Whatever Blake’s deficiencies, he has been hustling like crazy this game.

  57. FINISH HIM.

  58. Steve Blake is doing some good things tonight. remember this is vs the hornets

  59. Kevin, there’s your answer. Game-time baby.

  60. Sessions with the dagger 3

  61. Sessions with a great Fisher imitation. Money 3

  62. Ramon! We need him to know he plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, time to step up.

    Nice drive by Blake and hustle.

    MWP for the 3. Block by Pau and good rebounding by Bynum.

  63. Who would have thought every other NBA PG could hit wide open shots late in games?

  64. tra: nice late game play. sorry if I’m a party pooper this is vs the hornets.

  65. Kevin – Yes it is versus the Hornets, but the Lakers can only play the schedule. A win is a win. Given recent efforts, I’ll certainly take this one, where LA actually came from behind as opposed to losing from ahead. Here’s hoping that’s a sign of progress.

  66. ausphil: agree always good to get in the win column

  67. Even the hornets were so surprised by that rolling inbounds pass that it didn’t help them out.

    That’s a ridiculous play…

  68. Wow! Well we all know that Metta isn’t the Sharpest Knife n the drawer.

    Should have been more convincing, but @ this point of the season, a win is a win.

    Bears up on Clips by 7 with 19 secs left.

  69. Blake Griffin being very Blake Griffin – taking a 3 at the buzzer with his team down 9.

    Stay classy Blake.

  70. I hope that last inbound play to close out the game was not by design because that was the worst and possibly the strangest inbound play I have ever seen.

    Happy for the win, now it is time to get ready for the Spurs.

  71. To see this team struggle against the worst team in the west w/o their two best players should prove to all of you that this laker team will be an easy out in the first round. Come on! The hornets? Look at the Spurs who are resting their big 3 and they’re keeping up with Utah. The only way the lakers win any series is if he get lucky 4 out of 7 games. PERIOD. I’m done watching this mediocre team. Go clips!

  72. It wasn’t pretty but With Kobe out and Pau, Sessions and Bynum all playing through injuries, I’ll take the win.

  73. Pau is doing a really good impression of the best player on the team right now. I’m sure the advanced statistics didn’t show it, but he did really good for us.

    Plus, I enjoy Pau’s annoyance post game going: i don’t get that play.

    I still think our defense could be better… How many of those threes by the Hornets were wide open? I didn’t keep tabs. It’d be interesting to see if they were contested three point shots (showing that the Hornets were just hot) or if they weren’t contested (showing bad defense).

  74. I thought Brown had finally figured out not too play Murphy, we has he brung him back?

  75. Hornets shot 45% from the field 60% from 3. Problems are still there. No Laker took advantage of there match-up but played well together last 5 minutes of the 4th. Blake made a rare appearance tonight had 8 points but probably the most effective 8 points as a Laker.

    Bynum 2 games w/0 Kobe: 17 – 44 38%

  76. Even the Hornets were caught unprepared in the surprise ending, nobody expected that kind of play only WP can give that funny moment. A ” W” was a refreshing close with Hornets in a see saw battle.

  77. AusPhil @ 67 and Tra @ 70
    “A win is a win.”

    True.

    During the playoffs.

  78. Last play could have been the worst I ever saw at the end of a game.

    Huge win with Clips loss. Memphis will pass Clips for 4th.

    Pop rested his big 3 tonight. Think he wants to beat the Lakers Weds?

  79. Nice stats there Kevin! I can’t wait until Kobe gets back in the line-up so that Bynum can start getting easier shots and maybe get that percentage up near 60% again!

  80. KenOak,
    Sample size two games. Sample size two games. Twice for ironic purposes.

  81. Aaron,
    You are correct. It has only been 2 games. Crazy thing- what just a game here or there can do for advanced stats or an eye test. Crazy how much more difficult the shots are now that Kobe isn’t taking some of the pressure off of Drew.

  82. KenOak: that’s been my point. As good as Drew is Kobe being on the floor can make him great. Pau had no trouble producing these past 2 games was a struggle tonight but there’s no drop off. Bynum these past 2 hasn’t been the same guy.