LAL 93, NOH 91: April 9 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Monday evening road contest at New Orleans, the Lakers looking to bounce back from back-to-back losses to Houston and Phoenix, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Sessions, Ebanks*, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Hornets: G. Vasquez, E. Gordon, A. Aminu, J. Smith, C. Kaman
*Devin Ebanks started for the second straight time with Kobe Bryant resting his bruised shin.

FIRST QUARTER
4:38 L.A. got off to a slow shooting start, helping the Hornets jump to a 7-2 lead, but responded with a 12-4 run to open a 14-10 lead on a floater from Sessions, which got him to six early points. While the main priority for Sessions remains getting Bynum and Gasol enough touches, L.A.’s coaches do want him to be aggressive with his own shot when given space, particularly with Bryant sitting out a second straight game.

1:02 Bynum hit 1 of 2 free throws to reach 3 of 4 on the night, important to him since he really struggled from the stripe at Phoenix, making only 3 of 9 attempts. That was a rarity of Bynum of late, who especially since late January has been very solid at the stripe, improving his percentage from the 50′s up to 68 percent on the season (74 percent post All Star). L.A., meanwhile, led by four, though the Hornets got two points back to make it 21-17 after 12 minutes.

SECOND QUARTER
6:00 Providing an early bench boost was Matt Barnes, who nailed a corner three and the put back a Gasol miss, five straight points putting L.A. up 34-29. This was a good sign for Barnes and his team, since he’d made only three of his past 21 shots going back three games.

4:25 With Kaman trying to avoid his third foul, Bynum scored rather easily over Chewbacca (the Hornets play a Chewy noise every time Kaman scores), and Troy Murphy hit a corner two to put the Lakers up 40-31 on the next trip, the biggest lead of the game.

0:00 Biggest problem of the half for L.A.? Quick double teams from NOH on Bynum, who hasn’t dealt especially well with them all season, but struggles even more when they come immediately, which is what happened with the Hornets leaving Ebanks (instead of Kobe) on the wing and sending a second defender flying down. Bynum grew frustrated both with the constant double and a few no calls inside, New Orleans taking advantage at the other end with a 7-0 run. Gasol did manage a sixth field goal to reach 15 points, ending the half with a long two that made it 44-43 Lakers.

THIRD QUARTER
5:00 You don’t see too many point guards turn the corner on pick and rolls and get all the way to the rim for a two-handed dunk (Westbrook, Rose come to mind), but Sessions did just that to keep the game tight halfway through the third.

2:53 The latest LAL opponent to get red hot from three was Vasquez, who drained his fourth triple in as many attempts to put New Orleans up eight. It’s been a frustration for the last three games, with Houston and Phoenix shooting lights out from three, for a Lakers team that ranks fifth in the NBA in three-point percentage against.

0:00 The Hornets lead was seven after three quarters, as L.A. continued to look a bit disjointed on offense without Kobe, even with Sessions getting to the hoop and the foul line to reach 14 points, eight in the period.

FOURTH QUARTER
12:00 But L.A. got off on the right foot in the fourth, World Peace hitting his first triple of the game, and only the second for the Lakers compared with six from New Orleans, to make it a 72-68 game.

4:45 A key stretch for LAL came as Blake answered yet another Hornets three with one of his own, Bynum swatted Landry in the paint and Gasol responded with another bucket of his own at the other end to cut the lead down to two.

26.1 A fantastic final four minutes for the Lakers was capped by back-to-back clutch threes from World Peace and Sessions, turning a 4-point deficit into a 6-point lead, all keyed by a succession of defensive stops that had the Hornets without a bucket in over three minutes.

0:00 L.A. closed it out with a 93-91 win, hanging on despite a nearly-stolen inbounds pass with 1.2 seconds left. Gasol was the player of the game with 25 points and nine boards, but nearly everybody stepped up down the stretch. Up next: the Spurs on Wednesday. We’ll see you there.