The Los Angeles Lakers (36-22) were able to pull out a 93-91 victory over the New Orleans Hornets (15-42) last night on the road, despite being without their star player, Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers led 21-19 after the first quarter on six points apiece by Pau Gasol, Ramon Sessions and Devin Ebanks.
They held a one point lead by halftime, 44-43, behind 15 points from Gasol. Chris Kaman had 12 points at the end of the first half, as did Carl Landry off the bench.
The third quarter, however, wasn’t as favorable for the Lakers, as they were outscored 29-21 in the period and entered the fourth quarter looking up at a 72-65 deficit. Ramon Sessions had eight points and Andrew Bynum had seven in the third.
In the fourth, the Lakers trailed by eight points with just over six minutes left to play in the game. However, behind solid play and defense from just about everyone on the floor (a combination of Ramon Sessions, Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum), the Lakers began to cut the lead down.
Steve Blake hit a three-pointer on one play, and on the other end of the floor Andrew Bynum blocked a shot that led to a hoop by Pau Gasol, which cut the lead to two with just over four minutes to play, 84-82.
New Orleans would score, but Bynum kept the Lakers within two with a bucket of his own with under three minutes left to play. Steve Blake drew an offensive foul on New Orleans directly after this to give the Lakers another possession.
Blake hit a layup moments later, and Gasol blocked Chris Kaman on the other end of the floor. Then, Metta World Peace dropped in a huge three-pointer, giving the Lakers a three point advantage with just over 1:30 left on the clock, 89-86.
With 28.5 seconds left in the game, and just 3.2 seconds left on the shot-clock, the Lakers had to make a play out of a timeout. They likely wanted to get the ball inside, but World Peace–who in-bounded the ball along the baseline–saw an open Ramon Sessions behind the three point line and threw a high pass to him. Sessions caught the ball, shot it, and made the basket with 26 seconds left.
The Hornets came right back, however, as Greivis Vasquez dropped in a quick three-pointer of his own, cutting the lead once again to three, 92-89.
The Hornets played the foul game, and it gave them a chance as Pau Gasol missed one of two free throws with nine seconds left. Down by four points, Chris Kaman scored with 1.2 seconds left, cutting the lead to just two.
Then, a strange play occurred. Metta World Peace–who was in-bounding the ball–threw the ball to the opposite side of the court to Matt Barnes in an effort to run out the clock without getting fouled again . However, Jason Smith was right there and nearly got to the ball if not for Barnes tracking down the ball and fighting for possession. Barnes gained possession and time ran out, but the dangerous play was much discussed after the game.
Mike Brown called Barnes’ retrieval of the ball a “steal” instead of a caught pass because of how close it was from going into Smith’s hands. World Peace, who triggered the play, said it was the right play because it was the correct math, noting that he majored in math in college. According to him, he knew Barnes would get the ball because he is quick, and Smith, who is seven feet tall and less athletic, wouldn’t be able to get to the ball in time.
It looked like a dangerous play, but we will take Metta World Peace’s mathematical explanation as credible.
Pau Gasol led the way for the Kobe-less Lakers with 25 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. Andrew Bynum added 18 points and 11 rebounds while Ramon Sessions tallied 17 points (on 5-9 shooting), six rebounds, and six assists. Matt Barnes and Steve Blake were contributors off the bench as Barnes had nine points and eight rebounds while Blake added eight points and four assists. Metta World Peace scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds, and dished out two assists. Devin Ebanks, who started in place of Bryant, scored six points. Troy Murphy scored just two points off the bench, and Josh McRoberts was scoreless in 12 minutes of play.
As for the Hornets, Marco Belinelli and Carl Landry led the way. Belinelli scored 20 points and Carl Landy put up 20 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists off the bench. Greivis Vasquez scored 18 points, and pulled down 11 rebounds while Chris Kaman tallied 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Jason Smith had eight points and three rebounds while Al-Farouq Aminu scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds. Xavier added six rebounds, two rebounds and two assists in 23 minutes of play.
Now, let’s break down the victory:
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