Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The (34-16) Los Angeles Lakers are in the crescent city to face the (32-19) New Orleans Hornets.

The Lakers have embarked on their Grammy trip; a seven-city 13-day east coast road trip. The next time they play at Staples Center will be after the All-Star break.

Tonight they’re seeking to bounce back and respond to another disappointing loss at home. I understand that in an NBA season, a team has to deal with several highs and lows. A low point is suffering a one-point loss; allowing a reserve player to be the hero with a tip-in basket.

What I having difficulty understanding is the game ending strategy. The Lakers were in position to win the game. They faced a situation that required a defensive stop, a box out and a rebound needed for a big win, but Andrew Bynum was on the bench.

The Lakers have finished several games with Bynum on the bench. It is my belief that Phil Jackson and staff will revisit that strategy. There are some positives to take away from the San Antonio game. The Lakers played well enough to win an ugly game, but did not execute down the stretch.

There are 32 games remaining in the season, it is this writer’s belief that the Lakers will wake up, be consistent in their play, balanced offensively, defend, play like champions, and win 21 or more of those games and march into the playoffs prepared to defend their crown.

The Hornets will be without two starters tonight. The Hornets do not match up well with the Lakers. Los Angeles have won two games of the four game series against New Orleans. The Hornets have three centers on the roster and it will be interesting to see which one starts and if D.J. Mbenga will receive some minutes.

A long road trip will provide the Lakers time to bond as a team. They need to exploit their size advantage tonight. They need to start their offense on the inside by establishing both Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum in the post. The Lakers need to provide their big men several opportunities to dominate. Bynum and Gasol need to be catching the ball in the painted area and aggressively attacking the basket.

The Lakers needs to be consistent in their play and have balanced scoring. Kobe Bryant will have to be a facilitator early and a closer late. The bench has to make an impact every game. Their front line should score 50+ points and secure 30+ rebounds tonight.

The Lakers have to stop the dribble penetration of Chris Paul, do a solid job defending the screen and roll plays, quickly rotate out to open shooters, and challenge every shot.  They have to communicate on defense and fight through screens and stay in front of their opponent.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, L. Odom and P. Gasol
Hornets:
C. Paul, M. Belinelli, Q. Pondexter, D. West, J. Smith

Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: FS West (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
  • New Orleans: Cox Sports Television (Bob Licht & Gil McGregor)

Radio -

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

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Matt Barnes (Torn Lateral Meniscus, Right Knee) Out
  • Theo Ratliff (Left Knee Surgery) Out
  • Andrew Bynum (Bone Bruise Knee) Probable

Hornets:

  • Emeka Okafor (Left Oblique Strain) Out
  • Trevor Ariza (Ankle Sprain) Out