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Its March 14, 2012 and the (26-16) Los Angeles Lakers ride a three-game winning streak into tonight’s game against the (10-32) New Orleans Hornets. Laker all-stars Kobe Bryant & Andrew Bynum combined to score 71 points. The Lakers were able to overcome a 17-point deficit for a come from behind 116-111 double-overtime victory on the road with playoff implications.

The Lakers sit alone as the third seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. Tonight will be the first meeting between the two teams since the Lakers eliminated the Hornets 4-2 in their first round playoffs series last year. The Lakers swept last year’s season series against the Hornets (4-0) and won the 2009-2010 series (2-1). The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games against the Hornets and have won seven of their last eight overall.

The Lakers have gone 9-3 in their last 12 games at New Orleans Arena. The Hornets do not match up well with the Lakers front line. Andrew Bynum has averaged 26 points and 12 boards in the last five games while shooting 72-percent. It would be wise for the Lakers to capitalize on that and provide their big three of Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol twenty shots apiece. The Lakers need to give Bynum & Gasol enough touches to affect the outcome of this game.

The Lakers have the opportunity to establish Bynum & Gasol in the painted area and allow them to go to work; the low post scoring in concert with the defense the Lakers can effectively end this game by halftime. Despite tonight’s game being a back-to-back road game the Lakers need to play with a high energy level, with a sense of urgency, continue to use solid ball movement, good player movement to find high percentage shots attacking the basket and do a much better job of taking care of the basketball to decrease their turnovers.

The Lakers have to communicate of defense, do a solid job of defending the pick-and-roll play, control the tempo, get back in transition, control the boards and quickly rotate out to open shooters. It is imperative that the Lakers win the points in the paint battle, win the offensive rebounding battle and their reserves need to outscore the Hornets bench.

The Lakers have to tighten the screws of their defense and make sure that they do not underestimate this team or allow a player that normally scores under 10 points per game become a star overnight.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Hornets:
J. Jack, M. Belinelli, A. Aminu, G. Ayon, C. Kaman

Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
  • New Orleans: Cox Sports Television (Bob Licht & Gil McGregor)

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • New Orleans: KMEZ 106.7 (Sean Kelley & Gerry Vaillancourt)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Kobe  Bryant (Nasal Fracture, Concussion) Probable
  • Steve Blake (Costochaondral Fracture) Probable
  • Andrew Bynum (Bruised Right Knee) Probable
  • Luke Walton (Gastroenteritis) Not with the team

Hornets:

  • Eric Gordon (Atroscopic Knee Surgery) Out
  • Emeka Okafor (Sore Left Knee) Out
  • Carl Landry (MCL Sprain) Out
  • Jason Smith (Concussion) Out