The Lakers blew a 30 point first half lead, but still managed to beat Western Conference-leading New Orleans 107-104 in one of the most thrilling games of the year. Kobe Bryant’s MVP-worthy 29 point, 10 rebound, eight assist night helped the Lakers stave off a furious second half comeback by the Hornets, while also clinching the Pacific Division crown with Phoenix’s loss in Houston.
Jackson praised the Lakers’ remarkable defense in the first 20 minutes of the game.
“We really jumped out,” said Jackson. “There’s no doubt about it the defense was very active. Defensively at the end of the game, too, we had three turnovers that were very important at the end.”
While Jackson said that neither Bryant or Paul had their best games of the season, but Kobe’s energy and defense were critical factors in the Lakers’ victory. Jackson also praised the performance of Pau Gasol who scored 25 points to back up Kobe.
Even though the Lakers face another conference rival this Sunday in the San Antonio Spurs, Jackson said that he doesn’t expect too much carryover due to the contrasting style of play of the Hornets and Spurs.
“I think that this game is such a different concept than what, defensively, San Antonio is going to bring,” said Jackson. “There’s the way you use penetration, obviously, in a different format. It’s going to be a different scale.”