From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: Pau Gasol. Particularly with David West on the sidelines, the Lakers have an enormous advantage inside against a team like New Orleans. Emeka Okafor and Carl Landry are both undersized, and while Aaron Gray is bulkier off the bench, he’s not very good. It’s a game Gasol should dominate, and he did. In the first half, he scored in just about every way possible, whether running the floor to finish on the break, hitting from mid-range, or- best of all- absorbing contact inside from Landry and Okafor earning a pair of and-one opportunities. By the break, he’d converted six of his nine shots for 15 points, but perhaps more importantly hauled down nine rebounds on a night Andrew Bynum struggled to stay on the floor (see below).
From the K-Bros, Land O’ Lakers: Said Derek Fisher after Sunday’s 102-84 win over the Hornets at Staples: “As you move through a season, particularly for a team that has the experience we have, there are ebbs and flows in a season you embrace. You understand there are certain things that are just part an NBA season. When you’re on that high and things are going good, it’s important to maximize it and ride it out. I think that’s what we’ve done. We haven’t all of a sudden said it’s important to us now. As we started to play good right after the break, we found some things that we could kind of hang our hat on, and stuck with it. It’s been good for us.”
From Ryan Schwan, Hornets 24/7: The Lakers jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter, running their offense, taking advantage of all the size mismatches on the inside, and drilling every open look they got. The Hornets didn’t give up all game, cutting the lead to single digits several times, but in the end, they couldn’t hit their own open perimeter shots and fell 102-84 to the Lakers. I said before the games that for the Hornets to win, they were going to need Landry to go off and their perimeter guys to hit their shots. The Hornets perimeter guys, however, didn’t comply, and it wasn’t because of some sort of stellar perimeter defense. They simply failed to knock down the open shots they did get. 3-17 from deep, including 1-10 from Marco and Trevor. I expect that from Trevor, but Belinelli’s inability to hit his shots hurt badly. Paul himself was off for a lot of the game, shooting several shots so short that they were very nearly airballs. 23 points from three of your starters? That’s not cutting it against anyone.
From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: Sometimes, life’s like a box of chocolates that contains only one kind of chocolate: you know precisely what you’re going to get. Such is the case these days with games between the Lakers and Hornets. The teams assemble on a basketball court. The Lakers deploy their superior size, depth and talent to pound away inside. Kobe Bryant goes to work on whoever’s guarding him. Hornet shooters honk a bunch of open looks. Lakers win comfortably. Cut. Print. That’s a wrap. Everything went according to script tonight at Staples Center, where the Lakers prevailed, 102 to 84, to tie a bow around a four-game season sweep of New Orleans. We can look forward to a four-game postseason sweep should these teams meet in the playoffs
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: After winning consecutive NBA championships, the Lakers feel like going 15-1 after the All-Star break isn’t much reason to — in the words of Ron Artest’s new song — “Go Loco.” “We just feel like we’re in a good rhythm,” Kobe Bryant said calmly after the Lakers’ 102-84 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night at Staples Center. The Lakers are now four games behind injury-plagued San Antonio for the NBA’s best record. The Spurs and Lakers both have nine games left, including an April 12 date at Staples Center. Asked if the Lakers are motivated by catching the Spurs, Bryant replied: “We’re motivated by winning. It doesn’t really matter to us whether we catch ’em or not.”
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: Lakers coach Phil Jackson isn’t focusing the Lakers’ quest for it, but he said before the team’s game against New Orleans on Sunday night: “All things are possible in this game.” Jackson was talking about the Lakers maybe rallying all the way past San Antonio for the best record in the NBA. After the Spurs’ loss in Memphis on Sunday, the Lakers went into their game with New Orleans knowing a victory over the Hornets would leave the Lakers just four games behind San Antonio (57-16). The Spurs have nine games left, but seven of them are against teams with winning records — and one is against the Lakers at Staples Center on April 12. Jackson said the Lakers are not plotting to pass the Spurs, who expect to have Tim Duncan (ankle) back for some final regular-season games.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: After placing his shoes by his locker, Lakers guard Derek Fisher walked past the television and shot a glance at the screen. The Memphis Grizzlies were seconds away from securing an upset victory Sunday over the San Antonio Spurs, the team with the NBA’s best record that seemed destined to have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. But Fisher didn’t flinch for one second. He simply walked past the monitor and headed toward the exit. There was a game to play. Three hours later, the significance of San Antonio’s loss came into perspective. The Lakers’ 102-84 victory Sunday night over the New Orleans Hornets reduced the gap for first place in the Western Conference to four games and secured a one-game lead for the second spot over the Dallas Mavericks, which clinched their fourth consecutive victory with a win Sunday over the Phoenix Suns.
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Lamar Odom has never made an All-Star team and never won an individual award, unless you count the Eastern Conference player of the month in March 2004. But the Lakers forward is closer than ever to taking home a personal keepsake. Odom and Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry are in a tight race for the NBA’s Sixth Man Award. Odom is quick to point out he’s already a winner. “I’ve got two awards,” he said, pausing for effect. “Two championships.” Then he got reflective about winning something on his own. “It would be a great accomplishment,” he said. “I never would have seen myself four or five years ago coming off the bench.”