Since the Lakers manhandled the Hornets 109-80 in a January showdown in the Big Easy, both teams have continued to roll, with the Lakers sitting atop the Western Conference going into tonight’s matchup. New Orleans is nipping at their heels though, compiling a 43-20 record that puts them only a game and a half behind L.A.
In their January win, five Lakers scored in double figures, highlighted by Kobe’s great all-around game with 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Luke Walton had one of his better scoring nights of the season too, totaling 14 points.
Chris Paul has been on a tear of late for the Hornets, averaging an impressive 28 points and 14 assists over their last five games, including 19 points and 21 assists in New Orleans’ drubbing of the defending champion Spurs on Wednesday night.
Bryant has been heating up for the Lakers too, averaging 32 points over his last five games, four above his season average. As a team, L.A. has won 14 of 16 games, including their win over the Raptors on Tuesday.
While the Hornets will be at full strength going into tonight’s game, the Lakers are still missing center Andrew Bynum, who dominated New Orleans in their last meeting, scoring 17 points and pulling down nine rebounds to lead the Lakers to victory. Tonight’s game also marks the first time the Hornets will play against Pau Gasol in a purple a gold uniform.