Half-assed Preview: Hornets @ Lakers

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Published: November 6, 2007

Four and oh?

We'll find out this evening when the Hornets take on the Lakers out in L.A., where they say the smog is the reason they have such beautiful sunsets.

The Lakers are 2-1 on the season, which means they've won two games and lost one (see how it works?). It was a late triple from Houston's Shane Battier which gave them their lone loss a week ago. Since then though, the Lakers have whupped the Suns on the road and beaten the Jazz at home, scoring 119 points in both those games. That's even more impressive when you consider that they've been without Lamar Odom, who will also miss tonight's game.

So, what exactly are the Lakers doing that has them knocking off top teams like Phoenix and Utah? Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold lets us know…

  1. Playing better defense. Last year the Lakers had Smush Parker playing matador defense at the point and big men who were too banged up (Kwame Brown) or too young (Andrew Bynum) to make the quick rotation. This year the point guards are the veteran Derek Fisher (not the best defender but savvy) and Jordan Farmar, who has played good defense. Inside, the Lakers started all-energy Ronny Turiaf at the four to add some shot blocking along the baseline, plus Brown is healthy and Bynum looks far more mature. The result is the days of giving up 10 uncontested lay-ups a game are gone. Well, at least for the first three games of the season.

  2. Moving without/sharing the ball. In the last two games (impressive wins against Phoenix and Utah) the Lakers have run the triangle offense as well as they have since Phil Jackson came to town. Lots of motion, extra passes, guys getting the ball in positions where they can succeed. All this takes a burden off of Kobe; in the one Laker loss he used 43% of the possessions when he was on the floor, but in the last two games it was 20% and 23%. (That 43% is not all on Kobe for not passing, other guys were missing shots when he did pass so he tried to do it himself.)

  3. Depth. The Lakers have one of the deepest teams in the Association; when healthy they roll out a second unit of Jordan Farmar, Mo Evans, Luke Walton, Vladamir Radmanovic and Andrew Bynum. Right now, those guys are blending in with the starters (or in the case of Luke starting until Lamar Odom is back) but in the two Laker wins Radmanovic, Farmar and Bynum have played key roles.

  4. Ignoring the media circus and soap opera around the team. I imagine the hoops fans in New Orleans are sick of all the Kobe headlines from this summer and the start of the season, so you can imagine how fed up Lakers fans are of them. There have been legitimate questions about how this circus would impact a still pretty-young team, but as a group they seemed not to care. They have focused on the one thing they can control — on the court — and seem to not be worrying about what the front office is doing. (Man, I wish I could do that.)

Thanks, Kurt. Seems like there's a lot of similarities between the Hornets and Lakers right now, what with them both defending and sharing and being deep and everything. Also, Earl Boykins plays for neither team.

The Hornets should be at full strength for this one, getting Hilton Armstrong back from that viral infection that kept him out of Sunday's game in Denver. John Reid says Armstrong practiced yesterday. I believe him.

Game time is set for 9:30pm Central, so you might want to tell your boss you'll be late to work tomorrow. Priorities and all that. Leaving you with some relevant linkage…

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