It’s April 9, 2012 and the (35-22) Los Angeles Lakers are in the big easy to play the (15-41) New Orleans Hornets. In the first game of a three-game road trip, playing without Kobe Bryant, the Suns (125-105) routed the Lakers. Saturday’s game against the Suns was the Lakers first in two seasons without the services of Kobe Bryant.
Bryant’s absence, due to injury, snapped a string of 138 consecutive regular season games. Kobe Bryant leads the league in scoring averaging 28.1 points per game, against the Suns his average raises to 38 points, the numbers suggest that if healthy the outcome of Saturday’s game would have been different had the ‘black mamba’ laced up his Nike Kobe System VII Supremes.
Despite the loss, the game provided us with the good, bad & ugly. The good, that the Lakers scored 64 points in the paint, the front line of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace combined for 72 points, Bynum & Gasol 52 shot attempts, Metta World Peace averaging 21 points two straight games, everyone on the bench played and Devin Ebanks scored a career-high 12 points in 32 minutes.
The bad, Bynum & Gasol made only 24 –of- 52 shot attempts, the Lakers defending the three-point shot. The ugly, reserves scored 10 points, the reserves shooting 4-of-16 from the field, Andrew Goudelock & Darius Morris combining for four minutes, the Lakers shooting 1-of-11 from behind the arc.
The Lakers lead the three-game season series with the Hornets (2-0) after sweeping last season’s series (4-0). The Lakers have won the last three season series with the Hornets. The Lakers are 9-1 in their last 10 games against the Hornets including the last six straight. The Lakers are 10-3 in their last 13 games at the New Orleans Arena.
The Lakers need to establish Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol in the paint. In Kobe Bryant’s absence, Bynum & Gasol will receive the majority of the shots tonight and it is imperative that both are aggressive. The Lakers need to use solid ball movement and good player movement to find high percentage shots attacking the basket.
The Lakers need to play with a high energy level, with a sense of urgency 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 need to expand the rotation is a necessity the Lakers reserves like any other player need two things minutes and opportunities, hopefully that happens tonight.
Lakers: R. Fisher, D. Ebanks, M. Peace, P. Gasol, A. Bynum
Hornets: G. Vasquez, M. Belinelli, A. Aminu, C. Landry, C. Kaman
Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
- New Orleans: Cox Sports Television (Bob Licht & Gil McGregor)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
- New Orleans: KMEZ 106.7 (Sean Kelley & Gerry Vaillancourt)
- Kobe Bryant (Left Shin Contusion) Out
- Andrew Bynum (Sprained Left Ankle) Probable
- Jordan Hill (Sprained MCL, Right Knee) Questionable
- Ramon Sessions (Sprained Left Shoulder, AC Joint) Probable
- Eric Gordon (Lower Back) Questionable
- Emeka Okafor (Sore Left Knee) Out
- Jarrett Jack (Stress Fracture of Right Foot) Out