Lakers 100, Hornets 108: Running Diary

60045322Lakers – Hornets Gameday Page
We took a look at the Lakers – Hornets contest in New Orleans while it was happening, entering a thought or three each quarter as the Lakers looked for their second straight road win.

Lakers: Andrew Bynum (Achilles) Luke Walton (back)
Hornets: Peja Stojakovic

Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Hornets: Chris Paul, Marcus Thornton, Morris Peterson, David West, Emeka Okafor

Andrew Bynum, Luke Walton Injury Update
Prior to the game, we learned that Luke Walton could return to practice on Thursday when the team gets back to Los Angeles, while Andrew Bynum looks forward to meeting with his doctors to reevaluate his strained Achilles. For more, click HERE FOR BYNUM and HERE FOR WALTON.

60045327First Quarter
5:30 If you were a Laker from any country other than Spain, you didn’t score in the first six minutes for L.A. … fortunately for the road team, its Spaniard was in a scoring mood, making 5-of-8 shots for all 12 of his team’s points to match the Hornets’ output by himself.

4:00 Ron Artest decided not to let Gasol have all the fun, earning himself an open layup in transition after picking David West’s pocket, then hitting a baseline jumper off Pau’s post feed that put L.A. up 16-15. More importantly, we had a chance to try a local Po’ Boy sandwich, several beignets and some gumbo while in New Orleans over the past two days.

1:20 Though Houston does it a bit with Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry, New Orleans came in with an even quicker double point guard offense, with Paul being joined by Darren Collison, a former college teammate of Jordan Farmar (one year at UCLA). L.A. didn’t pick up Collison off a ball reversal, and he nailed an open three in the middle of a 9-0 Hornets run that produced a 25-21 lead for the Cajuns. Bryant got his first point with a late free throw, but West’s buzzer-beating leaner created a 27-22 N.O. lead.

Second Quarter
10:05 Collison’s second 3-pointer followed Paul’s to open the period, putting the Hornets’ run at 16-1. They’d made 6-of-10 threes to start, while L.A. had missed all three of their attempts from distance. N.O. came into the game just 3-11 in March, but of course saved one of their better efforts for the defending champs.

3:16 A frustrated Kobe Bryant turned into a more aggressive Kobe Bryant offensively for L.A., starting with a deep pull-up three out of a time out and the ol’ up-fake of Thornton to draw the rookie’s foul. However, 1-of-2 free throws cut the lead to 10.

0:00 Lamar Odom, who’d been extremely quiet in the half (as in zero points, one rebound and one assist in 19 minutes) nailed a tough and-1 layup as the buzzer sounded for halftime, but missed the free throw as N.O. took a 50-42 lead into the break. On the bright side, you didn’t have to watch the Hornets roll out 40 middle-aged men in red jackets and short blue shorts for a dance during a second quarter time out.

60045318Third Quarter
9:38 Back-to-back jumpers from Kobe and a Gasol tip-in capped a quick 6-0 run that cut N.O.’s lead to just five, the closest L.A. had been since the start of the second quarter. That Okafor missed 3-of-4 free throws in the first two minutes didn’t help the Hornets’ cause.

6:01 Antithetical to a comeback attempt: your opponent being in the bonus after just five minutes. Five personals on the Lakers did just that, however, while N.O. had just one foul. Thus negated four more Kobe points that momentarily brought L.A. within two, as the Hornets got four free throws on fouls far away from the basket, combining with a Thornton three (the team’s eighth) to put the lead right back at seven.

Fourth Quarter
9:15 “Lakers just cannot stop the bleeding at the defensive end of the floor.” That was Spero Dedes summing things up over on 710 ESPN radio (I’m always with headphones) as Okafor’s tip in put the Hornets up 17 points.

5:44 Finally, a solid stretch for the Lakers, producing a 12-2 run that cut the lead to just six points (87-81) when Farmar scored on a super tough and-1 layup through traffic, and Bryant put back Farmar’s missed bonus free throw. That happened quickly. In related news, the Lakers had scored eight straight points since sideline reporter John Ireland interviewed Bruce Willis on KCAL.

2:19 Then the run stopped. James Posey’s 3-pointer was the 10th made by New Orleans, and the biggest as it cut off L.A.’s comeback attempt by putting the lead back at 10. Artest had moments earlier missed two open threes from the corner, his sixth and seventh misses in eight attempts, the first of which would have cut the lead to just three. From that point on, the Hornets would nail eight straight free throws to put the game on ice.

The loss was L.A.’s second in four games on the 5-game trip which concludes in Atlanta on Wednesday. Until then, your numbers:

7 Three-pointers missed by Ron Artest, who just couldn’t find his range despite several open looks mostly from the corners. He made only one of eight attempts, L.A. 5-of-24 (20.8 percent) on the night.

8 Straight points run off by L.A. in a fourth quarter comeback attempt after KCAL sideline reporter John Ireland interviewed Bruce Willis. Just saying.

12 Straight points for L.A. scored by Pau Gasol to begin the game. The Spaniard finished with 24 points and 19 rebounds in a solid game.

41.8 L.A.’s shooting percentage for the evening, roughly six points below the 48 percent average allowed by the Hornets on the season.

43.5 Hornets’ 3-point shooting percentage (10-of-23), the final make a costly-for-L.A. James Posey dagger with 2:19 to play.