Los Angeles Lakers (34-16) at New Orleans Hornets (32-19)
Game tips off at 5 p.m. PST
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, LA
Local TV: KCAL
Hornets’ Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Chris Paul (16.6 PPG, 9.6 APG, 4.0 RPG, 2.57 SPG)
SG: Marco Belinelli (10.0 PPG, 37.4 3PT%)
SF: Quincy Pondexter (2.7 PPG)
PF: David West (18.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 50.9 FG%)
C: Jason Smith (4.9 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 88.0 FT%)
Key Reserves: SG Marcus Thornton (7.6 PPG), G Jarrett Jack (6.3 PPG), G Willie Green (7.3 PPG), G/F Sasha Pavlovic (n/a).
Injuries: C Emeka Okafor (11.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 1.78 BPG) – DTD, Trevor Ariza (11.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.66 SPG) – DTD.
On the heels of a heartbreaking, buzzer-beating loss at the hands of the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers will look to get back on track as they take on the Hornets in what will be the first contest of a seven game road trip.
The Hornets will be looking to end a losing streak as well, as they were edged by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night, 104-93. The Hornets were unable to contain reigning scoring champ, Kevin Durant, who poured in 43 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out five assists.
While the Hornets will be without Okafor (oblique strain) and Ariza (ankle sprain), the Lakers will still have enough on their platter tonight as they will be faced with one of the best players in the league: Chris Paul, who will not only be a starter alongside Kobe Bryant in the All-Star game this year (hosted in Los Angeles), but is emerging as a possible MVP-candidate per the Hornets’ recent success.
Although the Lakers will have their hands full with CP3, the Hornets are going to have to dig deep to match up with the size and skill of the Lakers front court, which greatly outsizes that of New Orleans.
The Hornets come into the matchup with the advantage in the momentum department, as they have won six-straight games and 11 of their last 13 at home.
The Lakers, on the other hand, have lost three of their last four games and have yet to find any source of momentum since stringing together seven wins in early January.
After recently being criticized for his elevated shot-selection, Kobe has been in the playmaking mode over the Lakers’ previous two games, averaging 10.5 APG, as the Lakers split home games against Houston and San Antonio.
It will be crucial for the Lakers to pick up a win tonight as they move forward into their annual road trip, which will have them playing seven road games over the next 11 days.