3-on-3: Previewing Lakers @ Hornets

The dreaded Los Angeles Lakers come to town less than 24 hours after winning a double overtime thriller in Memphis.

The last time the Hornets beat the Lakers (game 4 of their first-round playoff series), Jarrett Jack hit a key floater to give New Orleans a 4 point lead with 10 seconds to play.

Carl Landry, Jason Smith and Emeka Okafor are all still out tonight, meaning teams looking for a scoring big man for the stretch run won’t get to see a healthy Landry before the trade deadline tomorrow. As Mike pointed out in our trade deadline video chat last night, the Hornets may be best suited to sit Kaman tonight as well if the team is actively trying to trade him, but Coach Williams has not hinted at doing so.

Jake Madison joins me in previewing tonight’s matchup along with my former blogging colleague, Andrew Walker. Andrew and I teamed up to create now-dormant HoopDat at the end of 2010, the site that initially got me into sports writing. 

1. Which matchup most favors the Lakers?

Andrew Walker: Many will go w/ Kobe, & while it’s true that Kobe would turn Beli into Italian Sausage on defense, Ariza will likely spend most of the night guarding him. Therefore, I’ll say Bynum. In his past 5 games, he’s averaging 26 points & 12 boards on 72% (!!!) shooting, topped off by a 15-18 night last night. I couldn’t do that shooting layups in my back yard, much less against NBA defenders. Look for Bynum to try to carry that momentum over by getting aggressive w/ Chewbacca… I mean Kaman early and often. With Oak still hurting, it will be a long night for the Hornets if Kaman gets into foul trouble.

Jake Madison: With Smith, Landry, and Okafor out, the Hornets are going to have a hard containing the Lakers front court. Gasol and Bynum are going to bully the Hornets in the paint the entire night.

Mason Ginsberg: Any other day I’d say Kobe, but the guy has 15 years of NBA mileage under his belt and played 52 minutes last night. I could see the Lakers trying to limit his playing time at least a little bit tonight, giving Bynum a better opportunity to take over (much like he did last night).

2. Which matchup most favors the Hornets?

Andrew: Point guard. If you broke out every team into five spots (PG, SG, etc.) & assigned a PER rating to each one, the Lakers point guard rating of 8.8 wouldn’t just be the worst in the league this year- it might be the worst of all time! Fans will remember that CP3 blowing by Steve Blake and Derek Fisher in last years playoffs series was the only reason the Hornets stayed competitive in that series. While JJ and Grev won’t remind anyone of CP3, Blake and Fisher are both a year closer to collecting social security checks. Look for the Hornets backcourt to have big games.

Jake: I think Jack’s scoring ability gives the Hornets the advantage at point guard. He’s going to need to have a huge game if the Hornets want to have any chance.

Mason: Despite the change in personnel from last season, the answer here is still point guard. Jarrett Jack should be able to get past Fisher fairly easily, hopefully providing some much-needed scoring punch for a Hornets team that may not have much success in the low post with two seven-footers patrolling the area.

3. Care to make some predictions about the game?

Andrew: The Lakers are on the second night of a back to back, and I’ve personally always liked how the Hornets matched up against the Lakers; you beat the Hornets by spreading the floor, speeding up the game, and taking advantage of their complete lack of athleticism. The Lakers can’t do any of that. I think the Hornets come out aggressive, take a quick lead, and hold onto it for most of the game. Unfortunately, Kobe takes over halfway through the 4th & the Lakers squeak out a tough one.

Jake: I’d like to go with the standard Hornets-keep-it-close-until the-4th-quarter routine, but I think that’s being optimistic. The Lakers dominate in the paint early and end this game by halftime.

Mason: The Hornets take advantage of a tired, veteran Lakers squad and are able to keep this game close until the very end, but Los Angeles pulls through in a much better game than many of the fans may expect it to be. 95-92 Lakers.

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