Apr 2, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard Kobe Bryant (24) smiles at power forward Pau Gasol (16) after he completed a triple double in the second half of the game against the Dallas Mavericks at the Staples Center. Lakers won 101-81. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 3: Lakers vs. Hornets

April 5, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies power forward Zach Randolph (50) moves in for a basket against the defense of Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol (16) and center Dwight Howard (12) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With games against the Blazers, Warriors, Spurs and Rockets to close out the season, you could easily argue that tonight is a must win for the Lakers.

With that, let’s take a quick glance at three biggest things that will play a role in determining the outcome of this game and ultimately dictate the Lakers playoff hopes.

1. Intensity

The only thing the 27-50 Hornets have to look forward to as we enter the thick of April is the fact they are lottery bound. However, head coach Monty Williams has stated that he will not accept the team tanking the end of the season.

That said, this should prove to be an excellent barometer for just how badly the Lakers want the postseason. This is a huge game for the team and we better see the gravity of that on someone other than Kobe Bryant’s face for 48 minutes.

2. The Lakers big men

If Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard aren’t able to dominate the paint against the likes of Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson it’s just not going to happen. These two desperately need to figure out a way to work together – and this may be the final opportunity of the regular season to get away without doing so.

3. The Hornets big three

Anthony Davis, Greivis Vasquez and Ryan Anderson.

Don’t let the uni-brow fool you, Anthony Davis is looking like a solid Rookie of the Year candidate in the second half of the season and is putting up the 17th best PER in the league at 21.69.

He’s also averaging a solid 15.4 points and 8.7 rebounds on 55 percent shooting over his last 10 games.

Greivis Vasquez has averaged 15.3 points and 12 assists in three games against the Lakers this season, coupled with Ryan Anderson’s 20.3 points per game in that stretch.

You can catch the game live on NBA TV at 10:30 ET or on any of the various local Los Angeles networks listed here.

Tags: Los Angeles Lakers

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