Time to Drain the Lakers

Published: January 5, 2009

I’ll keep this preview short.  The Hornets have already played the Lakers twice this season, and both times, the Lakers put the hurt on them in the first two quarters, running out to a twenty-point lead, and then let up, letting the Hornets come back and make it look respectable in the last two quarters.  Neither of those losses were respectable at all.

It’s a long season, and typically I think “statement games” are pretty overblown.  The Mavericks had a “statement game” on the last day of the regular season to beat the Hornets, and then got steamrolled in the playoffs.  The Suns regularly had “statement games” against the Spurs during the regular season the past few years, and we know how that turned out for them in the playoffs.  The Hornets even had two “statement games” to start their series against the Spurs.  I’ll stop there, no one wants to remember what happened next.

Tomorrow night, however, will tell us something about the Hornets.  If they get hammered again, falling behind big, that forms a pattern of four games in a row(going back to last season) being blowouts in favor of the Lakers.  If that happens, I’m willing to say that the Hornets won’t get past the Conference Finals this off-season.  No, not that they probably won’t.  They won’t.

However, if the Hornets come out and play the Lakers tough, even if they lose by single digits, then I’ll like our chances in the postseason more.  Not a lot more, just more.

So, I am saying it is a statement game for the Hornets.  It’ll make the statement about whether they can match up with the Lakers, who are almost certainly the primary Conference Final contender this season. 

I can’t tell you how much I hope the Hornets prove themselves.  I want to believe.

As for a positional analysis and matchup, the Lakers haven’t changed from my last preview.  At this point, however, I’d call the Bynum-Chandler matchup in favor of the Lakers until and if Chandler returns to last year’s form.

Enjoy the game.

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