The Lakers beat the Hornets

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Published: April 12, 2008

Ron asked me to do tonights recap, and once again, the Hornets lose.  Just like every other time I've written a recap.  Damn you, Ron.  Damn you.

So the Hornets came out unprepared for a focused Laker defense in the first quarter and it disrupted everything we were doing.  As a result, the Lakers got lots of early offense opportunities and easy points.  Even when the Hornets did get their defense set, the Lakers were knocking down tough shots over everyone.  19 point lead at the end of the quarter.

In the second half it was the Hornets that came out on fire, at their disruptive best on defensive and getting lots of fast break points, ripping a 30 point lead down to one before falling short at the end by 3.

Let's get into this, Bullet-style.

  • We let them trap Paul way too often.  At one point he was screaming at Chandler to come out and set the high pick because they were jamming him at the line and making it hard to initiate the offense.  They also hacked the hell out of Paul repeatedly on those traps.  Calls were rare – but that IS something that should be expected in the playoffs.  We need a plan to handle that situation.
  • Kobe Bryant had a near triple double, putting up 29-10-8 in 43 minutes.  He shot 9-17 which is remarkable since he only made it to the basket twice all game – once a quick post move before the defense could set up, and once on a broken play.  The Hornets did a nice defensive job on him, keeping him out on the perimeter and making him knock down shots.  Gotta live with those results.
  • Pau Gasol was on target.  As usual, he was weak on the boards and around the basket but his midrange shot was on fire tonight and Kobe-Gasol on the break is as effective as Paul-Chandler.  He shot 9-12 for the game and a blistering 7-7 from the line.
  • The whole Lakers squad was blistering from the stripe, shooting 25-29.  The Hornets only got 17 free-throws, and hit 13.
  • Paul carved the hell out of the Lakers after the first quarter, finding the open man like he always does.  His floater in the lane, however, was not falling, since he was always shooting it over the outstretched fingers of Gasol, Turiaf or Odom.  4-13 shooting for Paul, though he still scored 15 points which is decent for 13 shots.  He also had 6 rebounds, 17 assists and 4 steals. 
  • Which brings me to Odom.  Forget Kobe and Pau, Odom was the player of the game for the Lakers.  His offense may not have been on, but that first quarter lead was built on the back of his drives to the basket, his smart passes, and 8 free throws in the quarter.  Throughout the rest of the game, it was Odom who time after time forced the Hornets to adjust their shots or shoot off-balance.  He rebounded in traffic like he was freaking Paul Bunyan.  Just a monster.
  • The Hornets hero was clearly Peja Stojakovic.  The guy was simply smoking hot from deep.  His last three makes from deep were with a hand in his face, two of them fading away.  He also played good defense against Kobe on the other end – Kobe only got two shots off, both of them off-balance fadeaways, was fouled twice by Peja, had the ball denied from coming to him at all on three posessions, and had to pass off three times because he couldn't clear enough space.  Good stuff.  Also, as Wawer(mW) said in the comments, if Peja drills that last off-balance three, the game could easily have gone to overtime.  Vlad Rad, take your 0-6 from deep and go home.  Peja is still your daddy.  Of course, you may be comforted by the Win, but you shouldn't be.  Jerk.
  • Bonzi didn't produce much offensively, but defensively that guy is a rock.  Fast hands, fast feet, just great all around.
  • I'm torn on Pargo.  Completely torn.  When he gets to play with the starters in the Shooting Guard role and as a secondary ballhandler, he is very, very good.  His offense changes entirely, and he actually runs the offense, makes good decisions and plays his usual great waterbug defense.  When he's on the floor with the second unit?  Shot after shot from deep with usually poor results.  No offense is run, it's just the Pargo show.  That has helped us in a few games, but most of the time it doesn't.  It's just stupid sometimes.
  • Speaking of stupid, Tyson started out the game stupid.  The guy just gets overamped and when that happens usually bad things follow.  That altercation he started with Radmonovic could easily have landed him his second foul.  His first foul was also completely unnecessary.  At least he had calmed down by the time he came back in and was able to hook up with Paul to tear into that lead, going 8-8 from the floor.  I love Tyson to death, but sometimes he's got to learn to keep that fire banked.
  • Hilton was awful.  He made me want to cover my eyes.  Ely contributed to that feeling.
  • Mike James played.  I really did have to cover my eyes, for they began to leak blood.  Please, Byron.  Give those minutes to Peterson or Julian.  Both of them played well.  Please.

That's all I got for you.  Hornets only have a half-game lead over the Lakers now, and one game lead over San Antonio and Houston.  That's right.  If they slip more, they could fall to fifth in the West.  The good news is the Hornets still control their own destiny.  No one can catch them unless they let them catch them.

The Lakers and San Antonio also play each other – so one of them is going to take care of the other for us.

Upcoming Schedule:

  • Sacramento tomorrow night – and they are playing well and have beaten us before.  They also delight in being a spoiler.
  • LA Clippers – have Elton Brand back and are playing better than any time this season.(Though still poorly)
  • Dallas Mavericks – Kidd and Nowitzki are on the same page now.  This will be tough.  And if we lose to them, we probably get them in the playoffs.  Could be a very interesting last game of the regular season.

Night.

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