The Lakers come into this game having officially conceded the Pacific Division title they’ve held for the last 5 years, not to mention bragging rights in the city of Los Angeles. That loss, however, pales in comparison to a more frightening possibility; missing the playoffs for the first time in 8 years despite amassing the highest payroll in the game.  Sadly, the Lakers’ destiny no longer fully resides in their hands with Utah having the tiebreaker should such a situation arise. That being said, no Utah loss means anything from here on out if the Lakers themselves don’t win four if not five of their remaining games.

The Lakers lack of depth seemed to catch up with them last Sunday against the Clippers as Kobe almost played the entire game yet again. That shouldn’t be the case tonight however thanks to the amazing return of Metta World Peace from surgery for a torn meniscus just 12 days ago. The Lakers clearly understand the imperativeness of this game as well as the need to get some rest for their aging superstar. For all of their shortcomings, the team has demonstrated the ability to impose their will against weaker teams when their backs are against the wall(i.e. Pistons, Cavaliers) and I expect that to be the case tonight.

The Hornets are exactly the type of fodder that the Lakers are looking for at this time of the year. Even when New Orleans puts up a fight, they are vulnerable to conceding lopsided runs that completely changes the context of the game.   They have done so numerous times this season, including once against the Lakers, and tonight shouldn’t be any different.

 Play:  Over 193.5

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