Lakers vs. Hornets Pre-Game Report: Lakers Searching for Consistency

The Lakers look to get back on track after two horrible losses. Last night the Lakers gave up a double digit lead and ended up losing to the Rockets. Hopefully they can right the ship and start playing like the team everything expected. Tonight they will face a young Hornets team who sit at the bottom of the Southwest division at 5-11. Clearly the Lakers have more talent on paper, but will they be able to get it done on the hardwood? Let’s take a quick look at the Hornet’s roster and see how the Lakers stack up.

Frontcourt: Number one overall draft pick Anthony Davis is about one week away from returning to the hardwood. Ryan Anderson has started in his absence and is absolutely lighting it up from long distance averaging 3.3 treys on 42.3 percent shooting. Anderson has recently been involved in trade speculation in a swap for the Laker’s Pau Gasol. One can easily see that Anderson would be a great fit within D’Antoni’s offense due to his superb outside shooting ability. In addition to his three point shooting, Anderson is also pulling down 7.9 boards per game. His frontcourt mate is Robin Lopez who is quietly developing into a solid NBA center. Lopez has chipped in 11.8 points, grabbed 5.6 rebounds and swatted 1.9 shots per game. Not too shabby for the oft forgotten “other Lopez twin.” At the small forward position, Al-Farouq Aminu is a versatile 6’9’’ player who has the ability to play great defense as evidenced by his 1.6 steals per game.

Backcourt: Greivis Vasquez is having an all-star worthy year averaging 13.0 points, 8.7 assists and 1.1 treys. He is fifth in the NBA in assists which is amazing considering most casual fans probably haven’t heard of him. Heralded rookie Austin Rivers has been moved to the bench due to his lackluster play and Roger Mason has started in his place. Rivers is shooting just 29.6% from the floor and he hasn’t been able to consistently create for others or for himself. The point guard experiment with Rivers sputtered out early on and Vasquez was given the reigns of the offense. Roger Mason is a ten year veteran who has played for seven different teams. He’s better known for his defense than his scoring ability. Undrafted rookie Brian Roberts has been a pleasant surprise for the Hornets since he emerged as a legitimate backup point guard. His PER is 18.09 compared to Rivers’ PER of 5.67. Roberts has looked to be the more efficient and better player between the two young guards.

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Key to Lakers’ Victory:

Consistent Effort and Energy Level: This is really what it boils down to. We can blame the losses on poor defense, turnovers or injuries, but what it really comes down to is lack of consistent effort and energy. The Lakers are a roller-coaster team who can at one moment look like they’re on their way to a championship, then the next moment look completely lost and downright terrible. This has been the story of the Lakers season.

We saw this last night within the context of one game. For the first half of the game the Lakers looked dominant, then they let the Rockets go on a few runs in the third quarter and eventually imploded in the last five minutes. If you look at the bigger picture and examine the Lakers schedule you will see a trend of inconsistency. The Lakers haven’t been able to string together more than three wins and haven’t lost more than two in a row. They will beat a good team like the Brooklyn Nets one night then inexplicably get blown out by a terrible team like the Sacramento Kings. It’s maddeningly frustrating.

Inconsistency will lead a team to .500 which is just about where the Lakers sit right now. Can this team start playing with consistent effort for 48 minutes? Or will Kobe end up delivering a locker room smack down? Patience has never been a virtue for Lakers fans nor does this team have the luxury of time on their side. This team was built to win now so hopefully they go out and win tonight.

Los Angeles Lakers (8-10) at New Orleans Hornets (5-11)
5:00 PM PST, December 5, 2012
New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, LA
TV: TWC Sports Network
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 ESPN (Spanish)

Hornets Projected Starting Line-up

PG: Greivis Vasquez
SG: Roger Mason
SF: Al-Farouq Aminu
PF: Ryan Anderson
C: Robin Lopez

Key Reserves: C: Jason Smith G: Austin Rivers PG: Brian Roberts

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