Lakers – Hornets Running Diary

Bryant - Rasual ButlerAs always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Previous L.A. – New Orleans Running Diaries
Game 1: Lakers 93, Hornets 86
Game 2: Lakers 100, Hornets 87
Game 3: Lakers 105, Hornets 116

Inactives
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
Hornets: Morris Peterson, Tyson Chandler

The lineups tonight are slightly different from Jan. 6, when these two teams met for the third time this season. The Lakers were without Jordan Farmar and Luke Walton, while Andrew Bynum and Tyson Chandler played for their respective teams. Add the first two and take out the latter for this contest.

Starters:
Lakers Fish, Kobe, Luke, Lamar and Pau
Hornets Chris Paul, Rasual Butler, Peja Stojakovic, David West and Hilton Armstrong

D-Fenders Dominate
And lets not forget about our D-Fenders (courtesy of PR magnate David Caldes):
L.A. coasted to a 108-90 wire-to-wire victory over the visiting Rio Grande Valley Vipers Friday at STAPLES Center. Los Angeles (9-22) jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, growing their lead to as many as 22. Rio Grande Valley dropped their fifth straight game sending their record to 10-20 on the season.

Chris PaulFirst Quarter
11:17 L.A.’s already seen Bryant (twice) and Gasol earn Western Conference Player of the Week honors … Could Odom be next? He’s averaging 19.3 points and 14.5 rebounds in his last six games, and opened this one with a 17-foot jumper.

10:00 Something that’s not talked about enough for L.A. is just how good a passer Luke Walton is. His first dime of the night found Gasol cutting through the lane for a dunk in traffic, and a 6-2 Lakers lead.

5:54 Walton continued a strong start by nailing a three, grabbing a defensive board and then finding Bryant up the court for a lay-in plus the foul to cap an 8-0 run that made it 16-9. That’s five points, three assists and the board for Luke in five minutes.

3:35 If you’re a Lakers fan, you’re quite happy to see how aggressively your squad’s come out tonight. Basically anytime this season that L.A.’s taken its opponent seriously from the outset, it’s won, and the gold jerseys were on the right track after Odom’s patented defensive-board-streak-to-lefty-layup routine made it 20-11. The Hornets weren’t able to get anything offensively aside from perimeter jumpers, but in fairness, they weren’t helped much by making just 1-of-9 threes.

2:16 Here are a few things that Lakers fans like more than James “I never said I played clean (I.n.s.I.p.c.)” Posey, whose three-pointer was countered by Jordan Farmar to make the score 24-16:

A) Slugs
B) War
C) Bill Laimbeer/Larry Bird/Paul Pierce
D) Taxes

0:01.2 If Trevor Ariza’s going to keep hitting open threes, the Lakers aren’t going to lose much (not that 44-10 means they’re losing much … whatever). His latest – after back-to-back fourth-quarter makes in Golden State this week – made it 28-20 L.A. after one.

DonSecond Quarter
9:52 One of the worst calls we’ve seen in a while benefited – you guessed it – Posey, who hooked Ariza with his left arm before flopping. He missed one, but still helped the Hornets score the quarter’s first six points to get within two. L.A.’s bench has been very good of late, unless you’re talking about these first three minutes, in which they were 0-for-7.

In other news, what up Don Rickles? Enjoying the game?

8:34 Seeing his first meaningful action since joining the Lakers, Shannon Brown immediately made an impact by using his 45-inch vertical (more on that next week) to draw a foul in the lane and hit two free throws. Already a crowd favorite thanks to his monster block against Atlanta (more on that tomorrow), it’ll be good for Phil Jackson to see what the former Bobcat can offer.

5:43 As New Orleans took the lead on an Armstrong put-back, I’m wondering what happened to the Lakers team that was playing in the first quarter? Anybody? The bench simply hasn’t played well, which is why the Hornets outscored L.A. by nine to head into a timeout up 33-32. I, however, was quite happy since the Lakers played “Just Got Paid” by N’Sync during the timeout.

2:58 Struggling from the field was Kobe (3-for-13), but that didn’t stop him from first stroking a triple and then leaking out in transition for a wide-open dunk. Odom then grabbed his ninth rebound, streaked up the left wing and drew a foul at the hoop heading into a timeout with a chance to put his team up six. Instead, he missed both free throws at the tail end of the 9-0 run.

0:05.0 The Lakers continued to miss shots in the final three minutes, but eventually got the ball to Gasol for a bank layup before the half that gave the Lakers a 45-41 lead at half. L.A. made only 6-of-25 shots (24 percent!?) in the second, but sideline reporter Nancy Lieberman still asked Kobe this question at the break: “What made the first half so successful for the Lakers?”

Um….

Stair Etiquette
I can’t stay quiet on this topic any more. I’ve tried, but it’s gone too far. In any stadium in the world, people, you walk down and up the right aisle. Correct? That’s just how it is. Now, if both aisles are open and you’re trying to circumvent a slower party, or someone that’s entering an aisle, that’s OK … as long as no one is trying to come up or down the row you’re not supposed to be occupying. Why is this so hard? OK thanks for listening.

Pau GasolThird Quarter
10:47 Walton’s been L.A.’s most effective player tonight, which we saw again as he made his fourth shot in as many attempts, plus the foul, adding to his four boards and four dimes. Luke kept it going by hurting Stojakovic – whom he’s guarded to 0-for-7 shooting – from the outside with his second triple, giving him 14 points and the Lakers a 51-45 lead.

8:00 L.A. opened up a 10-point lead when Odom found Gasol for a dunk, after Peja missed his sixth three of the night. As a team, they’re only 3-for-19, but too many of those shots have been wide-open.

6:57 Other teams should do what Rasual Butler just did more often – attack the paint, and go right at Gasol and Odom. The Lakers bait their opponents into settling for jumpers, and that simply doesn’t work well when they’re not shooting at a 60 percent clip.

6:16 Fantastic pass from Odom to Gasol for another dunk. These two have some explicitly solid chemistry going on offensively.

3:47 Upset that he wasn’t given a foul yet again, Bryant still spun around Butler and caught an Odom alley-oop for a layup and a 69-58 lead. Lamar had 10 points, 13 boards and five assists at that point, while Bryant had 20 points.

3:06 Bryant figured that if the refs weren’t going to call a foul, he’d just toss Butler to the ground and finish a layup. Fair enough. Moments later, his two free throws gave L.A. a 73-61 lead.

1:47 The game’s largest lead came courtesy of back-to-back steals from Ariza and Fish, the first of which Ariza dunked and the second of which was a Bryant hammer dunk. Quite quickly, L.A. took a 77-61 lead.

Butler managed a three and Paul two free throws to make the margin 79-66 heading into the fourth. When New Orleans beat L.A. here at STAPLES on Jan. 6, Lamar Odom had gone out in the third quarter with a hyper-extended knee, and the Lakers were already without Jordan Farmar and Sasha Vujacic. On that date, they were up three into the fourth, but lost by 11 as West and Paul didn’t miss a shot in the final quarter.

Kobe BryantFourth Quarter
11:36 Not a good defensive play there from Peezy, but we don’t care.

10:04 The second unit killed the Lakers in the second quarter, and they weren’t much better to start the fourth, allowing the Hornets to outscore them 10-4 to start the quarter after Paul hit a jumper to get within seven.

8:44 The lead fell to just three as Butler nailed from deep. L.A. had given up way too many good looks from three, and it finally caught up to them. The positive for the Lakers here is that Paul and West have been on the floor the whole team leading the comeback, while Bryant and Odom have rested on the bench.

Here’s the difference between L.A.’s starters and subs tonight: Odom and Bryant are +20, Walton’s +21 and Fisher +22. Gasol, who’s played with the bench at the start of the second and fourth, is just +9, while the bench numbers are quite bad. Vujacic’s -15, Farmar and Ariza -16 each and Josh Powell -19.

6:47 Posey’s three cut the lead down to two, its lowest point since the second quarter.

5:59 Fish made the Hornets pay for doubling down on Kobe, who did well to deliver the ball for an open triple and a six-point lead.

2:43 After New Orleans finally managed to take the lead on two Paul free throws, they won possession back on a tough charge call on Fisher, with who else but Posey taking the fall. The replay showed Posey’s back foot to be in the cylinder, which meant Fisher’s made basket should have counted, with a free throw to come. Instead, N.O. led 95-93 with the ball.

2:30 Make up call? Sean Marks got tagged with a moving screen to give the rock back.

1:35 Gasol tipped in an Odom miss from the baseline to tie the game.

1:15 Remember that comment about how Lakers fans hate James Posey? That three-pointer didn’t help. Hornets 98, Lakers 95.

Posey did, however, throw the ball out of bounds after a Fisher miss to get the ball back to the Lakers. They’d go to Bryant, who drove baseline and tried to kick it back to Gasol, but Paul made a great defensive play to poke it away and streak the other way in a four-on-Fisher break…

0:20.1 … But somehow, Fish drew a charge on CP3 underneath the hoop. What a play. You’ll rarely see Paul make the wrong decision like that, but give Fisher some credit. Lakers ball, down three.

0:14.3 Speaking of Fish, what a shot! A terrific inbounds play saw Gasol get doubled after Kobe took Posey away from the ball, leaving a wide-open Fisher from straight away: Swish. Tie game.

0:02.0 Paul missed a contested 22-foot jumper – barely – to send the game to OT on Pau’s rebound. That certainly worked out nicely for L.A., huh?

OVERTIME
4:17 L.A. drew two fouls on their first possession before Bryant hung in the lane to hit over Posey and reclaim the lead for L.A.

3:30 Responding to a Paul jumper was Bryant, who spun out of a double team to lay in at the rim. Paul then missed in the lane, and Bryant turned down an open three with a slick pass to Odom under the rim, resulting in Posey’s extremely hard foul. After hitting three big fourth quarter free throws against Golden State on Wednesday, Odom stroked two more for a four-point lead.

1:32 “He pushed me!” Chris Paul’s lips were easy to read after he went down in a heap and took Bryant with him. Bryant had been trying to recover the ball after Posey repeatedly reached in (literally four times), and surely got a push on Paul, but there’s no way he’s getting that call with the refs allowing Posey to play so physically. Bryant went to the line and made both as Paul walked to the bench with six fouls.

1:22 In for Paul, Antonio Daniels went right to the rim on Fisher and converted to get the lead back to four. Odom then rimmed out on a good look before Butler nailed a three to cut the lead down to one. How ’bout that?

jeff_van_gundy_mourning0:23.6 What a play from Kobe. Despite getting absolutely clobbered by West at the rim (on the head), Bryant finished a slashing drive (off a high pick and roll with Gasol) and made the free throw to put his team up 109-105.

During the timeout, Van Gundy took a shot at Jackson for what he called a history of not fouling late when up three, saying it’s hurt Jackson’s teams “numerous times.” In related news, Van Gundy isn’t the biggest Phil fan in the world.

Fisher and Bryant both hit their free throws down the stretch to ultimately emerge with a 115-111 victory.