Posted by hiphopmama on November 12, 2008
LA Lakers 93, New Orleans 86
The Lakers are now officially off to their best start since 2001-02, when they won their last title. Tonight’s game was an overall dominating performance tainted by a classic Lakers almost-meltdown at the end.
They came out firing and put in a full team effort to get themselves a huge lead of 19 at halftime. It was a pretty even third quarter, with LA maintaining its cushion and the Hornets going through some painful scoring droughts (which they did a few times during the game), but in the fourth quarter New Orleans finally mounted a run. In typical Zen-master form, Phil refused to call a timeout once during any of the quarter-long spurt that brought the Hornets to within three points in the last few minutes. Overall it wasn’t really Kobe’s night, but he showed up when it counted, nailing a huge three pointer with the shot clock about to expire and James Posey right in his face to get the lead back up to six. That shot pretty much sealed the deal, and the Lakers held on and made their free throws to get through and remain undefeated.
The Hornets looked taken aback for much of the game, and often looked like they were playing on their heels through the first three quarters. Much of that can be attributed to the Lakers and how well they were clicking, but it also has to do with the team’s youth, which can sneak up on it despite its considerable talent. For their part, the Lakers were up and down. The team of the first half slowly disappeared over the course of the second, so that their exceptional first half shooting was whittled down to 41% by game’s end. Kobe went 5/15 for 20 points in a low-key effort, although he did get a season high 6 assists. Gasol and Bynum both chipped in 14 points, with Bynum adding 4 more blocked shots, but Fisher was the guy who really stepped up. He nailed 4 of 6 three pointers, going 7/11 overall, and played a big part in getting them out to that big lead early on. Ariza was a spark plug again, especially in the first half, contributing 10 points off the bench.
This was the shortest rotation Phil has played all year, using only four guys off the bench. I’m sure as the season goes on that rotation will get more and more compact, allowing for some tinkering along the way, as he works out who he’ll be going to down the stretch and in the playoffs. So far, Farmar, Vujacic, Ariza, and Odom look like a great group to bring in, especially as energy guys, but their mettle will have to be tested again if the Lakers hope to go as far or farther than they did last year.
For the Hornets, Chris Paul was flippin’ brilliant, as always. This was his seventh straight game with 20+ points and 10+ assists (he finished the game with 30 points, 13 assists, and 7 rebounds, plus only 2 turnovers). David West also had a double-double with 21 and 12. Tellingly, the Lakers were out-rebounded by the Hornets 43-40. The first half numbers were heavily in favor of the Lakers, but the team tried to cruise their way through the second half and almost paid the price. The rebounding numbers in this case are a good indicator of the effort (or lack thereof) of the team.
I can only find the first half highlights so far, but I’ll check back for the full game later. *UPDATE: full game highlights.*
p.s. Thank you, Mom, for my NBA League Pass! This one goes out to you. (*kiss fingers + peace sign, Sammy Sosa style*)