The Los Angeles Lakers came into the game on a three-game winning streak but were a little winded due to a double-overtime match they had last night in New Orleans. The Lakers had not been very consistent on the road this season, but their win in Memphis surely boosted their confidence.
The Hornets are one of the worst teams in the NBA and the Lakers could not afford to lose to his team due to playoff implications, and it would most definitely be embarrassing falling to a team so low in the standings.
Los Angeles had another mediocre start to the game and the Hornets were, as expected, pumped to play the Lakers. New Orleans is not a very talented team, so they were anxious to go out there and play the best they could. The Hornets opened up nicely and held a 5-4 lead with 9:10 left to play in the quarter.
The Hornets batted well with the Lakers, and Marco Belinelli was sharp from the perimeter, which proved to be a major boost for the team. The Lakers had trouble preventing the Hornets from scoring and were not playing efficiently on the defensive end. Things were falling for the Hornets and with a little confidence, New Orleans was able to maintain its’ lead, 12-10, with 6:30 remaining in the period.
The Lakers were not playing at the level they were accustomed to and were allowing the Hornets to hang around. Instead of cutting into the lead, the Lakers were not very aggressive, and as a result, were going back-and-forth with the opponent. Although Pau Gasol was dominant with the ball in his hands and scored 10 of the Lakers’ first 17 points, the team was tied with New Orleans at the 3:43 mark.
The Lakers did not end the quarter well, and Kobe finished the period shooting 2-5 from the floor. After 12 minutes of play, the Hornets had an eight point lead, 28-20.
The Hornets continued to attack the Lakers and their reserves were outplaying Los Angeles’ second unit. The Lakers were clearly not as energetic as the Hornets, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that they played a double-overtime game in Memphis last night.
The Hornets were hitting their shots and with the home-crowd behind them, momentum was on their side. The Hornets were doing well on both ends of the court and that allowed them to maintain their lead. Thanks to 61 percent shooting by New Orleans, they opened up a 34-23 lead with 9:31 left in the half.
New Orleans’ bench was outperforming the Lakers’ reserves and they were in control of the game for much of the second quarter. The Lakers were doing their best to slow down the game, but when the young Hornets pushed it up the court the Lakers had trouble guarding them. The team was giving its best effort, but their legs were not allowing them to perform at the optimal level. At the 6:30 mark of the second quarter, the Hornets held a 38-26 lead.
The Lakers made a strong push late in the quarter, but they could not get enough going to make a major dent in the deficit. Their turnovers were once again killing them, and they faced a double-digit deficit for the majority of the second quarter. The Lakers amassed 12 turnovers in the period, whereas the Hornets had only seven. On top of that Jarrett Jack was shooting the lights out for the Hornets and was 8-9 from the field in the first half.
At the conclusion of the second quarter, the Hornets walked back to the locker-room with a 54-40 lead.
The Lakers once again put a small run together to cut into the Hornets’ lead, but New Orleans answered back with a run of its own. Just when it seemed like the Lakers could bring themselves back into striking distance, the Hornets made key plays on both ends of the court. The Lakers were on the verge of bringing the game to single-digits, but with 9:32 remaining in the period, New Orleans was ahead, 58-43.
However, as the quarter progressed the Lakers got their act together and were relying on their stars to take care of business. Bryant continued to shoot well from the perimeter and the Lakers’ big men were more dominant in the paint. After their sub-par opening minutes of the quarter, the Lakers cut the deficit down to single-digits, 62-53, at the 7:10 point of the quarter.
Momentum was on Los Angeles’ side and it was doing everything right in the latter half of the period. The Lakers were clicking on all cylinders and they were outplaying the Hornets on nearly every possession. Even though the team had come off a long game versus the Grizzlies, they slowly started to get their legs back and found their groove. With 3:54 left to play in the period, the Lakers cut the deficit down to three, 64-61.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Lakers managed to find a way to tied the game at 70. Bryant was leading the Lakers with 21 points, and the only other players in double-digits were Gasol and Bynum with 16 and 12 respectively.
The Lakers had another poor performance in the opening minutes of the quarter and allowed the Hornets to go on a quick 5-0 run. The Hornets’ young players were hurting the Lakers in transition and were relying on the inside-outside game to help them regain the lead. Belinelli continued to stay hot from behind the arc and his shooting helped the Hornets go up 77-72 with 9:06 left in the game.
The Hornets kept some separation from the Lakers and constantly found ways to answer Los Angeles baskets. The Lakers were able to connect on their shots, but had trouble preventing the Hornets, especially Jack, from scoring. With 6:01 left in the game, the Hornets held a five-point lead, 84-79.
In the final five minutes of the game, the Lakers’ big men controlled the paint and were the center pieces of the offense. Andrew Bynum was the Lakers’ go-to man in the fourth quarter and he grabbed key offensive rebounds for the team. Just when it seemed like the Lakers bailed the Hornets out with a tough perimeter shot, Bynum came soaring in and put in two points. At the 2:43 mark of the fourth quarter, the Hornets had a 89-88 lead.
The Hornets held a five point lead with less than a minute left to play, but the Lakers showed poise and some how made it a game. Momentum was on the Hornets’ side, but the Lakers made all the key plays late in the game. And with the score tied with only seconds left, the Lakers relied on their closer, Kobe Bryant, to hit the game winning shot. Kobe had a good look at the buzzer, but the shot did not fall through and the Lakers headed into another over-time game with the score tied at 93.
In the overtime period, the Lakers put the ball in Kobe’s hand and needed their best player to finish the game. Bryant scored the Lakers’ first five points and it was clear he didn’t want to play back-to-back double overtime games. At the 3:15 mark of overtime, the Lakers were up 98-95 and Bryant scored 31 points.
In the latter half of the extra period, the other Laker players stepped up big for the team. Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace made huge plays in the final minute and allowed the Lakers to regain the lead with only seconds remaining. After battling in another overtime game, the tired Lakers pulled out a much needed win, 107-101.
The Lakers will be back in action on Friday in Los Angeles when they host the Timberwolves at 7:30 p.m. PST .