Heading into the third quarter last night in San Antonio the Lakers had a small lead and were looking to build on it. However, that didn’t work out as the Spurs walked all over them en route to a dominating 15 point win. The Lakers were not about to watch New Orleans do the same thing tonight. They came out of the locker room with a sense of purpose, and drove at New Orleans in an attempt to put it out of reach early. Unlike the Lakers we have seen for much of the season, tonight’s squad had a sense of urgency that was previously not there.
Led by the continued great play of Lamar Odom and the entire starting five, the Lakers put the game on cruise control – in a good way. They continued to play solid defense and find open looks, which was a stark difference from the poor defense and contested shots they’ve been showing off lately. By the end of the third quarter Odom was shooting 7-9 from the floor and had 18 points, leading the way for the Lakers in his first game off the bench this season. Entering the final quarter of play it seemed inevitable that the Lakers would finally put another win under their belts, and were leading 83-60.
The fourth quarter was nothing but a formality for the Lakers and Hornets tonight. It has been a long time since the Lakers were able to coast to an easy victory in the last twelve minutes, and it seemed as if that is what would be the case tonight. However, New Orleans wasn’t about to give up, and they deserve plenty of credit for that. The Lakers continued to struggle with turnovers, however, as they committed their twentieth of the night halfway through the quarter. The Hornets cut the lead down to 17 in the fourth, which was the closest the lead had been since early in the second half.
There is no doubt that tonight’s performance was crucial for the Lakers. After all the questions and speculation surrounding the team over the recent losing streak, a solid win like this one does wonders for a team’s confidence. The return of Bynum to the starting line-up appeared to be one of the solutions to the Lakers many problems, but that certainly doesn’t mean all ills are cured. The Lakers still had far too many turnovers in this game, and in a game where they aren’t as hot shooting the ball that can cost them.
The player of the night for Los Angeles was Lamar Odom. After accepting his role as a reserve again, Odom went out and set a career high in points as a back-up. It was a great night for Odom, as he finished with 24 points off the bench. The Lakers defeated the Hornets 103-88, ending their losing streak.