Key Reserves: Willie Green, Jason Smith, Jarrett Jack
Injuries: Peja Stojakovic
The Lakers host the New Orleans Hornets at Staples on Friday night and look for a win against a talented western conference foe.
Frontcourt: Okafor is a physical center who is averaging 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. He isn’t much of an offensive threat but defense and rebounding are his strengths. At power forward, West is the leading scorer for the Hornets at 18.5 points per game. West can knock down the mid range jumper and score with a variety of post moves. The lone bigman reserve is seven footer Jason Smith who is a space filler.
Backcourt: One of the premier point guards in the league, Paul is a player on both sides of the ball. Defensively he is thief who leads the NBA with 2.9 steals per game. Offensively he can get it done by driving to the basket, knocking down jump shots, and creating for his teammates. The Lakers backcourt will have their hands full trying to shut Paul down. With such a prolific point guard at the helm one would think that fellow wing-men Ariza and Belinelli would be shooting better than 38.1% and 42% respectively. Belinelli is a three point threat and pure shooter who doesn’t do much else. Ariza is more known for disrupting passing lanes than for his scoring ability.
Keys to Lakers Victory:
Defensively the Lakers need to key in on stopping Paul who is the cog of the Hornet’s offense. They can’t let him run rampant like they allowed Tony Parker to do a few games ago. It’d be smart to force Paul to settle for jump shoots rather than allow him to get to the hoop for an easy lay in. Also, the Lakers should limit the number of touches West gets since he is the Hornets most efficient scorer. If Fish and Kobe can force the ball into the hands of Ariza, Belinelli, and Okafor then the Hornets’ offense will be limited.
Bynum is slowly rounding into form and I’d expect him to overpower Okafor. Odom has been great for the Lakers all year and his consistency has been appreciated. He’s converting 57% of his field goals and averaging 15.6 points per contest. Odom should be able to run rampant over the Hornet’s second unit.
The Hornet’s are a capable team, but the Lakers are more talented and much deeper. As exemplified in the win against the Suns, sometimes the Lakers don’t need to be great to win, just good enough.
Lakers’ Injuries: Theo Ratliff