Let’s see if New Orleans feels like playing some defense tonight.
All Star Chris Paul is at Staples tonight, but his Hornets team is in some genuine disarray. Last Wednesday at New Orleans’ team shoot around, head coach Byron Scott went off. After back-to-back losses on the road at Boston and at New York, Scott hammered his team saying, "We're not a team. We're just a collection of individual basketball players right now."
The Hornets responded with their best win of the year Wednesday night, beating a very good Dallas team 114-107 in OT. In that game, Peja Stoyakovich hit a game-tying 3 to force overtime, then Paul scored 6 of his game-high 39. After the win, Scott admitted that he had giving his guys the “what for” earlier in the day, “I'm pretty good at holding things in for a little while, but when I let 'em out, I kind of let 'em out. I kind of let it out this morning.”
But instead of building on the success, New Orleans was embarrassed on its home floor Friday night getting crushed by Toronto. The 3rd quarter was a microcosm of the Hornet’s season. In those 12 minutes, there was a lot of “quitting.” Raptors All-Star Chris Bosh was an electric 9-9 from the field in 12 minutes, and any pretense of perimeter defense also evaporated as Toronto hit 8 shots from beyond the arc. Toronto coasted to a very easy 107-90 road victory, dropping New Orleans to 2-4, their worst start in 4 years.
There will be no Pau Gasol and no Andrew Bynum for the Lakers (5-1) again tonight. Gasol’s progress in returning from his hamstring strain seems to have stalled, while Andrew continues working back from his elbow injury. So, Kobe Bryant, who has scored 41pts in 3 of the Lakers last 4 games, will need to do the bulk of the damage against the very soft New Orleans defense tonight.
How bad is the Hornets’ defense? They were #5 in the NBA in scoring defense in 2008-09 at 94.3 points, and they’re getting torched to the tune of 105.5 per game so far this season.
This is a chance for Laker fans to see Chris Paul up-close and personal. He is impossible to guard, seemingly able to penetrate at will, and now he’s become a 3-point shooter, hitting 15-18 from beyond the arc so far this season (72%).On a note of optimism, the Lakers were undefeated in Sunday home games last season.
G Derek Fisher
G Kobe Bryant
F Ron Artest
F Lamar Odom
C DJ Mbenga
G Chris Paul
G Devin Brown (making his first start with Mo Peterson inactive)
F Julian Wright
F David West
C Emeka Okafor