Game Preview: Hornets @ Lakers

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Published: April 11, 2008

Tonight's game is huge.  If the Hornets lose, they will have only a half game lead on the Lakers for the 1st seed in the West.

Honestly, I don't think it matters that much though if we slide to the second seed.  Having the first seed would help in the 1st round, because eighth seed Denver would be a much easier opponent for us than seventh seeded Dallas, who play us tough.  However, having the first seed would match us up against the winner of a Houston or San Antonio vs Utah Round in the second round.  I'd rather face the winner of a San Antonio or Houston vs Suns round, which is who the 2nd seed will be facing in the second round.

Feh.  No matter. It is nice to be able to worry about these things.  On to the game.

Game Preview
Matchup: Hornets(55-23) @ Lakers(54-25)
Off Efficiency: Hornets 109.1(4th), Lakers 110.0(3rd)
Def Efficiency: Hornets 102.7(5th), Lakers 102.9(8th)
Lake-show Bloggers: LA Ball Talk, Forum Blue and Gold

The Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10.  The Hornets are 8-2.  The Lakers played a game last night, but it was a blowout and the bench was able to play most of the 4th quarter, so I doubt it will happen much.  It also was one of those "away" games for the Lakers where they played the Clippers in the Staples Center.  Must be nice to have 2 "away" games at home every year against an opponent like the Clippers.

I won't talk long about the MVP battle that's shaping up tonight – it's being covered almost ad nauseum all over the internet.  It appears that a lot of people are deciding between Paul and Bryant, and tonight's game may figure prominently into that decision.  The Lakers do have a penchant for giving up big nights to opposing point guards, while the Hornets like to let big wing scorers run wild on them sometimes.  It'll be interesting.

Injuries:  Luke Walton and Derek Fisher are hurt but will be playing.  Andrew Bynum will not be able to return yet.  The Hornets have no significant injuries.

Positional Analysis
PG:
Derek Fisher v Chris Paul
Advantage: Hornets
Fisher will poke, prod, pull, and bump the hell out of Paul.  Paul will get angry and retaliate.  They will jaw at one another and generally be unpleasant.  Meanwhile, Fisher willl stick some threes, draw a charge, and Paul will get into the paint and score and dish like mad.

SG: Kobe Bryant v Morris Peterson
Advantage: Lakers
Kobe will get his.  Morris will harass him.  Peja, Wright and Bonzi will help.  Last game when Bonzi came in he literally knocked Kobe all over the court and played tough.  All of their efforts will be needed to slow down Bryant, and Morris will need to produce something on the offensive end for us to win.  No 0-fer games.

SF: Vladimir Radmonovic v Peja Stojakovic
Advantage: Hornets
Vlad Rad always wants to show up Peja.  I think it's because he grew up in the shadow of Peja in Serbia and has a similar game as him.  He's just no where near as good at it, and he's, frankly, kind of stupid.  Peja's smart and though maybe a little slower, should easily outproduce Vlad.

PF: Lamar Odom v David "The Fluffiest" West
Advantage: Lakers
I've said this before, and I'll say it again.  Lamar Odom is the toughest matchup for West of any NBA power forward.  Typically West has at least one advantage against everyone.  Speed on Duncan, strength on Garnett, etc.  Odom counters him expertly though.  He is fast enough to close on West's midrange game, and freakishly long enough and fast enough to challenge his post game.  When West tries to overpower him, he is still capable of bothering the shot with his long arms.  On the other end, Odom hovers out at the three point line – where West hates to venture.  Altogether, Odom usually makes him struggle.  Lets see if Fluffy can solve the Odom Riddle tonight.

C: Tyson Chander v Pau Gasol
Advantage: Even
Pau is a nice post up threat with a good mid-range game.  He's also a clever passer in a system that generates cuts to the basket all the time.  Defensively, Pau gets pushed around like a kindergarten kid who accidentally ventured onto the fifth-graders playground.  Chandler will bother him and vacuum in the boards tonight.  Pau will still score and get some nice feeds.  In the end, they'll probably have about the same impact on the game.

Bench
Advantage:
Lakers

Farmar, Walton, Turiaf, Vujacic makes for a nice bench.  Farmar is a speedster point who is a great change of pace over Fisher.  Vujacic is a dead-eye shooter.  Turiaf is the energy defender, rebounder and dunker every team needs off the bench, and Walton is an all-around skilled forward who can stick the corner three, make the right pass, and irritate the Hornets on the boards with clever box-outs.

Pargo, Wells, Wright, and Armstrong matchup, but fall short.  Pargo and Farmar are both fast, but Farmar is a bit more consistent as a shooter.  Wells will punish Walton.  Wright will harass Vujacic, but his offense probably won't match the ranged bomber's.  Turiaf will dominate Armstrong – since both guys come with the same skillset, but Turiaf's motor runs non-stop and with about twice the power.

Tough game.  Paul comes out on fire.  Hornets win by 7.  The Hornets get the 1st seed.  Paul gets the MVP.  Rainbows and Butterflies abound.

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