On November 8th the Lakers played the Hornets in Staples Center, and walked away after an impressive 104-88 win. New Orleans is back in town tonight, but there are several key differences between tonight’s match-up, and the one from a month ago. When the teams first met, the Lakers were without Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, two players who will be crucial in tonight’s game. New Orleans also had Chris Paul and Peja Stojakovich on the floor, and Byron Scott on the sideline. Well tonight things will look different for both teams, but the final score may be very similar. The Lakers will look to dominate the Hornets again tonight, and increase their season long winning streak to seven, and tie Phoenix for the best record in the Pacific Division.
If the Lakers want to defeat New Orleans tonight, their biggest obstacle will be themselves. New Orleans is a team that is struggling, and missing their two best offensive options. If the Lakers play solid, energetic basketball, they should have no problem in disposing of the Hornets. Here are a few more keys to tonight’s game;
- The Battle in the Post: Last season, Hornet’s PF David West scorched the Lakers for a career high in points, but in the last meeting was held to just 11 points and 4 rebounds. New Orleans features Emeka Okafor at center, so it will be up to Bynum and Gasol to contain these two big men. Even though West tends to play more of an outside game than a back-to-the-basket type, he can create match-up problems for Gasol. Look for Phil Jackson to match-up Ron Artest or Lamar Odom on West when Gasol or Bynum are on the bench.
- DC2? With Chris Paul on the bench, former UCLA guard Darren Collison will be running the point for New Orleans. He is a speedy, high energy player much like Paul. The Lakers need to do a good job of containing his quickness and agility, so look for Jordan Farmar off the bench to run with Collison and do his best to neutralize him.
- Do We Really Need to Mention the Bench? This is becoming a very consistent theme in our keys to the game, and it will remain this way for a long time. In a game like tonight’s, where the Lakers should have a large lead in the fourth quarter, can the bench come in and sustain the lead and close out the game? They have been better lately, it will be interesting to see if it continues tonight.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Hornets
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Tip-off: 7:30 PST
TV: FS West, NBATV
Radio: 710 ESPN (NEW home of the Los Angeles Lakers)