Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Lakers walked back to the bench during a time out and the camera cut to a smirking Phil Jackson. Before that quick break, Pau Gasol had blocked David Andersen’s three-point attempt, then Ron Artest followed that by intercepting a pass. That smirk on Phil was probably one of sheer joy that his team remembered what ball movement and defense look like.

The ball movement in this game was signature Lakers and, before we go into, “why can’t they do this all the time?” let’s just be happy they know how to get back to it. It was true team ball being played by the men in purple tonight. Every Laker who got some burn handed out at least one assist, with Kobe Bryant (32 points on 10-22, nine rebounds, five assists, one block) leading the way with five dimes. If there were a stat for the pass before the pass, or even the pass before the pass before the pass, Kobe would be right up there in the ranks. He sees everyone in his 360 and is probably the player best at passing out of a double team, and he did it tonight…often. New Orleans had him cornered every chance they could get and he made them pay for it.

The Lakers had 20 assists on 36 makes; Pau Gasol to Andrew waiting under the hoop for a dunk, Shannon Brown’s backdoor lob to Lamar Odom for a layup, Steve Blake to Kobe Bryant for three, Kobe Bryant to Derek Fisher for three – it was a sharing shindig in the Big Easy. And with so much deliberate passing of the ball, the Lakers didn’t make a lot of mistakes. In fact, they only gathered four turnovers to New Orleans’ ten, their lowest turnover total this season.

Despite the Hornets shooting almost 50%, the Lakers were still very active on the defensive end, and tonight they were led by Ron Artest and Derek Fisher. They had five of the Lakers’ eight steals. Artest also had three blocks. He looked more engaged tonight than we’ve seen him lately, and he also only committed one personal foul. Defending without fouling – wow, what a great secret! And Derek Fisher, for all the criticism he gets for being another year older, also contributed to the Lakers’ defensive efforts. He stripped the ball time again and took charges whenever he could. Artest looked his old, defensive stopper, self.

On the offensive end, Pau Gasol went 13-17 for his 34 points. Other than a pretty reverse layup , Gasol’s jumper tonight never met a hoop it didn’t like. 13-17?! That’s a 76% shooting percentage for the evening. Gasol didn’t look apprehensive or slow today. Whether he demanded the ball or had it just fall into his hands, he made good with it. He was active without the ball, collecting 10 rebounds and handing out three assists.

Kobe Bryant’s 32 points (10-22) were, as they usually are, made up from shots from anywhere. He faded away as the ball kissed the glass then fell into the hoop, he hit 4-5 from three, dribbled out of double-teams and before the Hornets could recover, Bryant was already running back down on defense.

This was a good way to start the long road trip. Up next Memphis, who have already defeated the Lakers twice. If the Lakers play how they did tonight, however, there’s a good chance they’ll avenge those two losses to the Grizzlies. Here’s hoping!

Box Score
Pre-game Thoughts:
Game 1 on the Grammy road trip takes us to New Orleans. The Last time the Lakers were here, they beat the Hornets convincingly. They are without Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor tonight so let’s see if the road team can take advantage of the short-handed home team.
Half-time Thoughts: 54-50 – Other than the 14-point lead that the Lakers lost, they’re playing as well on both ends of the court than could be hoped for. They’re shooting 56% from the field, with New Orleans not doing too badly shooting 53%. Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant have taken on the offensive reins tonight, combining for 37 points on 14-20 from the field. The Lakers are moving the ball well and the defense is active. Hopefully they have enough for the second half.
Most Thoughtless Player(s) of the Game: The Lakers bench was outscored 39-15.Yes, they’re shorthanded in the regular bench rotation with Matt Barnes out, but Odom/Brown/Blake going 5-17 isn’t good. Brown’s shot hasn’t been the most efficient the last month and Steve Blake has barely been attempting to get any shots up at all. Especially on a long road trip, the reserves will need to contribute more.
Most Thought-filled Player(s) of the Game: It would be easy to credit Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol for their 66 points, but Ron Artest and Derek Fisher really provided the Lakers with a defensive presence tonight. It was comforting to see.

  • John Robertson

    Nice win for the Lakers, im glad that they didn’t collapse in the end…

    I hope they continue to play like this..

  • Get Real

    The Lakers barely beat an undermanned Hornets team so it’s no time to celebrate. They really need to work on their defense because it sucks. When a player like Anderson gets “hot”, his man needs to stick with him. Too many open looks.

    Also how do they get out rebounded by NO? The Laker front line are always out of position and make only half ass efforts at the ball. That kind of play will fail in the playoffs.

    Phil kick their asses!

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  • Lakerso0828

    Let Me know When the Lakers Beat a Real Team not Some Young Team that Has not even made to the WCF yet alone the NBA Finals

    • Heat Haterz

      A close-minded person would call you a troll simply because they don’t agree with you. However, I agree with you 100 percent. The Hornets have always been a “good” team for the past several years, but they have never been “elite,” not even when the Lakers overtook them for 1st place in 08 I think. They’ve never been to WCF or the Finals.

  • Anna

    we complain when they lose, we complain when they win. Let’s be real. They don’t need to win every game by 20 points. They moved the ball well, had just 4 turnovers and they played defense effectively down the stretch. Hornets, Cleveland, OKC – if they play with this much energy and focus, they’ll win everytime no matter the level of competition and in the end we’re happy they get the victory.

  • trippleoccho

    Lakers, the team that chooses when to play lol

  • Guildtank

    A win is a win, but it doesn’t mean nearly as much as beating Spurs, Mav, Celtics, Heat, Magic or Atlanta. We need to step up in big games or risk being relegated to a “2nd tier” team

  • LakerMarc

    Nah I dont agree NO is a top team, they had a 63% record and the lakers were only 2.5 games ahead of them…well thats changed! I think that was a well played game and they showed things we knew they had/have but were rarely showing…excellent game Lakersnation. Great article and there wasnt much more to say. Let’s go 7-0???????

  • yash

    this was a bad win. the refs def helped the lakers out. aaron gray was gettin butt raped and the refs didnt see it. they attempted 4 free throw shots all game. and the margin the lakers won by is NOT ACCEPTABLE, especially with 4 free throws by opposing team the entire game. plus they were playin without ariza and okafor. so not impressive. gotta beat them by 10+ pts minimum with these small stats.

  • Laker8n4te24

    Yash, shut ur ignorant butt up a win is a win wether by 25 or 1…lakers played well we got a W so shut up…it’s good to see emotion on not only kobes face during the game but pau too…the other lakers feed off of their emotion great game lake show, now let’s string some W’s together

    • yash

      are you serious? a win is a win? what if the lakers had 10 free throws instead of frickin 27?? the lakers didnt win, the refs helped them win. last offensive foul wasnt an offensive foul. its not we. its the lakers, your not on the team. they have played better when they had kwame. they played with some effort atleast. these guys are too relaxed, they dont really come out with the right mentality. everyone knows theyre virtually unstoppable when theyre heads are in the game, when ron ron plays right, when fish, shannon, barnes, blake make shots its impossible to beat the lakers. i only mentioned the low ballers. if kobe, bynum, pau and odom play well. GAME OVER.. KO. they dont play with heart or anything. if it wasnt for their schedule they wouldnt be top 3-4 in the west

      • Laker8n4te24

        Ur a fake fan and the reason all lakers fans get hated on…stick to water polo kid, and for you to say we played better whith kwame brown is just proof…I’m sure ur 1 of the idiots saying trade Kobe trade pau panicing for no damn reason…the season isn’t half over yet so calm down…we will b there when it counts and if u can’t handle it put on ur heat jersey clown

      • daboss1848

        rafner, is that u? the real question is r u serious? a win is a loss? the “if” game? if courtney lee makes his layup do WE win ship? if kperkins plays do WE win ship? should WE surrender all our Ws and ships based on negative what ifs? for every negative nancy like you, there are also positive what ifs to consider: if Magic and BScott play WE win the ship in 1989? if Worthy and Bscott played WE win ship in 1991? . . . If PIG stayed, WE wouldve won another ship . . . We lost to SAS after Parker ran KB over – offensive foul, no call – didnt hear you vehemently defending your team then? Get over it – a Win is a Win, and a Loss is a Loss – WE dont set the schedule, WE just play it out.

      • yash

        dude i was talking about the effort of how much the lakers played with when they had kwame. they played with more effort. im a fake fan? im the one thats happy with sorry ass wins? your like gettin happy over beating the cavs. a win is a win? do you remember how bad the officiating was for kings/lakers game 6? i wanna play fair and win, not by some refs helping out. thats cheating, cheating isnt fun. thats why ppl hate the lakers, cuz they get all the calls. you know that. they attempted 4 free throws the entire game and they won by 6???? are you fukin kidding me????

        • Laker8n4te24

          Yash ur making urself look dumb, quiet plz ok thx…u sound like every other teams announcers I have to listen to on league pass bitching about whistles! Let’s think for a second…lakers whole entire game plan revolves around post ups n the paint no matter who is doing it…and us attacking the rim when dumb teams like hornets take 75% of their shots from perimeter of course the free throw differential will b that way just think…I truly believe ur anphienix suns broadcaster bitching about not getting to the line.

  • http://TheLakerNation Pretnenders not Contenders

    Big come back win for Celtic’s after tough loss to Dallas the other night. The thing about the Celtic’s this season is they don’t loose multiple game’s in a row to other top team’s. See that’s the difference between them and the Laker’s this year. It’s going to be very difficult for any team to beat us in a seven game series. I think the Heat or Orlando have a better chance of doing that then the Laker’s

    • Kobe4Life

      What does you’re name mean Fag! Or did you mispelled your name? We’ll there’s no mispelling when I call you a Smeltic Faggot!

      • 242LakerFan

        Leave him alone. Don’t you see his angle? If the Heat or Orlando beat the Celtics and then lose the Championship to us, he can come back like his whiney, crybaby coach and claim that if it were them instead, of Miami/Orlando, we wouldn’t have as many chips as they do all-time. He’s just setting up his hand in the soon to come game of What If that starts right after Kobe hoists another Bill Russel.

  • Josh Herrington

    I thought it was play until about 7 minutes into the 3rd quarter when the Hornets came firing back. Chris Paul didn’t miss a shot that quarter. We scrapped until the end where we won at the line. Speaking of the line, The Hornets went 0/0 from the charity stripe in the 2nd half! So, kudos to The Lakers’ defense but if we want to be even greater we need the bench to step up a lot more. Other than that, it was a solid play and Pau stepped up in stunning fashion.

    • Josh Herrington

      *I thought it was GOOD play*

  • Nick

    Beating a smalll team without their starting Center Emeka Okafor who is everything Bynum and Gasol isn’t (tough, good defender, good rebounder, gritty, undersized, humble) is no accomplishment. The c’S ARE GONA SMASH U FAGS AGAIN COME THURSDAY. And thats without the O’Neal boys and Delonte West. Bring it to the East-Coast u bitches.

    • hey

      You may be an idiot, but I agree with you about Bynum.

    • Nick is Gay

      Nick get your butt back down to the basement. Your mom doesn’t want you out in public without meds.

  • fingerpointin

    Two starters missing for N.O. and still Kobe played 40+ minutes…………..

  • Eidraq

    As much as I enjoyed this win, I want to see the Lakers win against the Celtics and Heat before thinking that they’ve made improvement.

    • whoa

      You’re asking for the stars and the moon buddy.

      • 242LakerFan

        Why not? I’ve seen Madonna’s bare butt before, so a star and a moon is not unobtainable.


    yeah, but that came at a price of an “eye infection”! that girl is DIRTAY! just straight up gross!