The Lakers beat the Hornets

The Lakers showed their depth and superiority tonight, as they gradually built a big fat lead against the Hornets in the first half via their vast array of weapons. To the Hornets credit, they never really quit and battled back hard with a small ball lineup in the fourth quarter, trying desperately to deprive Laker fans of their free tacos. Unfortunately, New Orleans couldn’t quite eclipse the century mark, thus failing to save downtown Los Angeles from a nasty bout of post-game flatulence.

110-99 the final score ( box | recap ). On to some notes…


To win this one, the Hornets would have had to play a near-perfect game while hoping the Lakers had an off-night. Unfortunately, neither of those things happened. The Lake Show was clicking on all cylinders. The looked inside to Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol regularly and they both delivered more often than not. Kobe Bryant took what the defense gave him and finished with 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Phil Jackson ended up using eleven players and all of them got on the scoreboard. The Lakers got to the free-throw line with ease (33 attempts) and played great team defense for much of the game. They just did too many things well for the Hornets to have a chance.

It was nice though that the Hornets outrebounded the Lakers, 38-34, which reinforces the fact that New Orleans didn’t lose this game due to lack of effort.

Devin Brown

There was plenty of criticism for Devin in the Game On comments, but I feel they were mostly undeserved. True, he’s not a legitimate starter in this league, but the Hornets don’t have much choice but to start him and he’s been giving it his all out there. He was about the only guy tonight who was able to break through the Lakers’ perimeter defense and make something happen. He finished an abysmal 1-of-9 from the field for 6 points, but he created a lot of easy looks for his teammates as his 8 assists can attest to. He also delivered a good hard foul on Kobe in the third quarter, and although Kobe often got the better of DB in this one, he certainly didn’t have it easy.

Darren Collison

His numbers tonight: 20 points (7-14 FGs), 5 assists, 4 turnovers and 2 steals in 34 minutes. His jump shot looked shaky again, but I thought he played a solid game overall. He would have had a few hockey assists if anyone kept count, and he was pesky as always on defense. He had two nice plays against Kobe, first getting by him on the perimeter late in the third quarter, keeping him on his back and then using a hesitation dribble to open up a gap for the layup. About a minute later he shadowed Bryant brilliantly to slow down the break and help stop the Lakers getting an easy bucket at the end of the period.

Battle of the Bigs

Bynum and Gasol were excellent as usual, combining for 35 points on 16 shots, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. David West and Emeka Okafor battled hard against them but to no avail. West saw frequent double teams, rarely getting enough space to play his usual game. Easy for a team to slow him with Chris Paul and Peja Stojakovic out. West finished with just 8 points (4-9 FGs) and 3 rebounds in 27 foul-plagued minutes. That’s the third time in less than three weeks that he’s scored 8 points or fewer in a game.

Okafor had a much more productive night, tallying 17 points (7-10 FGs), 12 rebounds and 2 steals. He got his points in a variety of ways: rolling well to the basket and keeping his hands up, cleaning the glass and even a couple of jumpers.

Marcus Thornton

He’s officially in a slump. He warmed up a little in the fourth quarter tonight to finish with 9 points on 4-of-10 shooting. In his last three games combined, he’s shooting just 9-of-30 from the floor and 3-of-14 from deep. His aggressiveness is still there; those same looks just haven’t been dropping, he’s had trouble finishing inside and his passing and defense have been suspect.

Small Ball

The Hornets were able to finish the game strong and make the score look a little more respectable with a 28-16 run. For the vast majority of that, Jeff Bower went with the small lineup of Darren Collison, Bobby Brown, Marcus Thornton, Julian Wright and Darius Songaila. It was effective because they played with great energy and really pushed the pace, and perhaps also because the Lakers had Adam Morrison in the game.

Hilton Armstrong

Hilton played 13 minutes and managed to foul out. It was more of the usual from him, as he settled for weak shots instead of going up strong, blew an open put-back and got dunked on something awful by Lamar Odom. Of course, there were a few bright spots, too, as he boxed out well several times and grabbed six boards, played some solid help D and made a nice move late in the fourth to get a layup.

Chris Paul

The CST broadcast showed Chris running some light sprints, working on some spin dribble moves and shooting jump shots before the game. From that, I’d expect him to be back no later than the December 11th home game against the Knicks.

Bullets to finish:

  • I like how Phil Jackson let his reserves finish out the game despite the Hornets threatening to make a comeback. Most coaches in the NBA would bring back in a starter or two, just to be safe. Not Jackson. It’s early December, but he’s coaching for the playoffs.
  • With Ike Diogu, Chris Paul and Peja Stojakovic all unable to play, I was surprised to see Sean Marks sitting on the bench in a suit. John Reid reports that Sean’s right shoulder is still bothering him and that’s why he was inactive.
  • Always fun: watching Darius Songaila on both ends of the floor. He does so many of the little things that don’t show up in the box score.
  • As shown in last week’s video breakdown, the Hornets have been moving the ball much better since the coaching change, but they often revert to old habits when the opposing defense steps up. We saw it a couple of times tonight. Hopefully time and discipline will minimize those lapses.
  • Be sure to check Mr. Kennedy’s post-game Journal report. As he points out, the Hornets have a pretty nice stretch coming up, starting with Friday’s game against the lowly T-Wolves in New Orleans.

UPDATE: Game highlights…

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