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.”
Does anyone really care about catching San Antonio? I am much more excited by the fact that we are now ahead of Boston and Miami.
Chicago would be nice, obviously, but doesn’t seem quite as imperative as Boston, Miami, and even OKC.
I know I shouldn’t say it out loud, but right now the west standings look like just about the best scenario for the Lakers, with the two teams that give us fits, OKC and Portland, on the other side of the bracket.
The schedule is a bit brutal going down the stretch, so anything can happen, but here’s to hoping we can keep it rolling…
Okay. We do need to talk about this. So let’s do it. You’re right. I have a problem. Let’s just get it out in the open. Me and you. Here and now. I’m sorry to bring this up in this way… But… I have a big time man crush on Andrew Bynum. It’s not even a man crush. It’s just a crush. Its more than that… I’m in love. And it’s bad. So I’m going to explain why my day starts and ends with him.
When was the last time we had a player besides Kobe that could steal the games story line by scoring 13 points and grabbing less than 10 rebounds? And don’t say Shannon Brown. Fast break dunks don’t count. Andrew Bynum was basically fouled out of this game early by some pretty interesting calls. With five fouls and the Hornets cutting the lead to four points HOF coach told the team to throw the ball into Andrew Bynum and when they were tired of it to throw it to him some more. And the Lakers young giant center just took the ball and put it in the basket. He did so again and again. But it wasn’t just that he scored at will for basically five straight possessions. He scored the ball in ever offensive way you could do so. There were back in dunks. There were Gasol esc face up jump shots. There were over double team jump hooks. And if course the ever so usual drive baseline spin move turn around and dunk on the entire species of hornets shots.
The crowd was more shocked than elated. They were more appreciative than entertained. We are going to have to talk about this. I know we are all scared. He has broke our hearts with his knees time and time over. But it’s time we have this conversation. Should I be purchasing and pasting an Andrew Bynum poster on my bedroom ceiling?
To hell with SA, just keep winning, and whatever falls out, falls out. It would be nice to catch Chicago in case they come out the East. Staying ahead of Dallas for the favorable bracket is imperative.
Buy yourself a FatHead Aaron.
I’d like to avoid facing the Thunder if possible. If that means second place in the WC, I’m perfectly fine with that.
I don’t know if the Hornets will make the playoffs. Memphis will be a tough first-rounder for whoever plays them. I think Houston will sneak in as well.
John Morris says
I don’t want the Lakers to see Portland in the Playoffs. The Rose Garden scares me.
Chris J says
I don’t care much about catching the Spurs, either. L.A. gets one win in the SBC Center and it’s so much for the Spurs’ best record in the regular season.
I’m with Busboys4me — so long as L.A. has the better record than the teams from the East, I’ll be happy. It would be far more preferable to start — and possibly end — the Finals at Staples Center, rather than having to fly across the country to play in up to four very big games should the Lakers get that far.
I’m also with those in the camp who’d prefer not to play Oklahoma City. They match-up well given Westbrook’s speed, and will be particularly edgy given that they were upset about the loss last year, and have since added the known (and highly overrated) Laker-hater from Boston.
It’s almost sad to watch the person who used to be Trevor Ariza play basketball. Especially when it’s against us and he lays complete eggs. The confidence isn’t there on the shot, inside or out, he doesn’t have the explosiveness we all loved in his slashing, and his defense was surprisingly pedestrian when on against Kobe. Credit can always be given to the Mamba for going after him intentionally, but biting on up-fakes and always being two steps slow was hard to watch. This was a guy every-single-one-of-us loved when we had. Loved.
T. Rogers says
I am keeping my eye on the Eastern Conference standings. I would love see Chicago drop a couple games in these last few weeks. Of course, the Lakers need to keep winning. The 2-2-1-1-1 format of the earlier playoff rounds is pretty kind to the road team. However, the 2-3-2 format of the Finals is troublesome for the road team. For this reason I care more about LA catching Chicago (and staying ahead of Miami and Boston) more than them catching the Spurs.
We can’t worry about the lower seeded teams. It would be nice to avoid Portland and OKC. However, that is out of the Lakes control. I still am confident the Lakers can beat both teams.
Darius Soriano says
A new post is up.
@Taylor, agree 100%. I personally enjoyed Ariza’s play for us, I even had a nickname for him, “Ninja”. The way he slashes and commits steals was amazing to watch. Alas, it was great while it lasted. Question is now who will be the new “Ninja”?
Alot of us have said this time and time again. The Lakers are predicated on parts that fit the system. It wasn’t that Ariza came here as a journeyman and became Superman, he fit our system. The wide open shots that were there because you had to double Kobe when he attacked the basket. He was allowed to set, get comfortable and shoot with ease. He could play his freelace defense because we had bigs behind him to back his play. Now he is who he is; a gambler. More often than not coming up empty. You don’t leave Neverland!!!
Aaron.. we have a problem.