The Lakers must love working overtime in New Orleans. Last time they were in the Big Easy they had to go an extra session to defeat a depleted Hornets squad…and that was with Kobe Bryant.
Tonight there was no Kobe and the Hornets were even more shorthanded if that is even possible. This one was certified to get the ugly stamp until things got interesting late. Interesting in an entertaining kind of way and since it’s the drama filled Lake Show it got interesting in a bizarre kind of way too.
Let’s just talk about the bizarre first and get that out of the way.
L.A. had a two point lead, the ball in the front court and there was only one second left. This one was in the bag, all you had to do was inbound the ball. For whatever reason Matt Barnes lined up deep in the backcourt. For whatever reason Metta World Peace actually threw the ball toward Barnes in the backcourt…that would towards the hoop…about the last place you’d ever want to throw the ball…
Luckily for L.A. Barnes got to the ball first to hold on for a 93-91 victory. Ugly yes…but a win none the less.
As for why World Peace committed what Stu Lantz called the “dumbest play he’s ever seen”…I can only guess that the Lakers just love to work overtime in New Orleans. They certainly did their best to try and make that happen again.
As for the entertaining portion of the contest. That would be the way L.A. closed it out.
Trailing with under three minutes to play it was looking like another sad loss was in the cards. Then a sequence of plays happened to finish this one off.
First Steve Blake hit a tough one-hand runner in the lane to take the lead, Pau Gasol blocked, Metta World Peace drained a triple and Ramon Sessions sank a sick three to beat the shot clock that really closed the door.
If you can overlook the near suicidal pass by Metta to end the game the way the Lakers finished was clutch in a playoff kind of way. Not saying that pulling out a win over a Hornets squad that is more D-League than NBA these days is anything to brag about. But this was a building moment for a team minus it’s identity in Black Mamba.
Kobe was actually decked out in Mamba black on the bench, looking very comfortable and coach-like. Could be this rest is also prep for the second phase of his career. Just sayin…Jelly Bean got into coaching too. Like father like son and all that jazz.
To win without Kobe the Lakers had to dial up the defense late. The entered the fourth trailing by 8 so it was do or die.
Those that did the damn thing were Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum who owned the block. The painted area should be painted purple and gold no matter what arena the Lakers are playing in. Gasol balled out with 25 and 9, none of which came easy. All game long the Hornets threw Chris Kaman, Jason Smith and that Laker killer Carl Landry at L.A.’s twin towers. They even got under Andrew Bynum’s skin for a hot second causing a mini Baby Bynum showing.
Drew was upset over a horrible no-call so he did what all professionals do when they’re frustrated: run down court and bear hug Greivis Vasquez 30-feet from the hoop for no reason. Thankfully that was all we saw of Baby Bynum. Andrew also went off for 18 and 11.
As mentioned Landry did his usual act against the Lake Show. He dropped 20 and 11 off the bench and made some big shots that had the momentum going the Hornets way. At least until L.A. took all that momentum out of the building.
The play that put this one on ice was Sessions’ clutch shot from deep. Those three were part of 17 points put in the box by Ramon. He also filled in six boards and six dimes on the night. His triple gets the headline but his dunk in the third gets the poster.
Sessions exploded to the hole and threw as nasty one down on Kaman, getting above the rim and coming down with two hands. When was the last time a Laker point guard did anything like that?
Not the most inspired win considering the circumstances and with all due respect the opponent. Still this was an inspired effort no matter the opponent. Finishing games has been problematic for the Lakers so this conclusion was welcome. Well…all except for the last 1.2 seconds that is.