A night that began inauspiciously in New Orleans for the Los Angeles Lakers found itself turned around through the second half of the contest. The Lakers dominated the Hornets post halftime and snapped a two game losing streak on a night that Kobe Bryant became the youngest player in NBA history to score 30,000 points. With a strong defensive showing led by Dwight Howard in the third quarter, the Lakers prevailed against the Hornets and even found garbage time for recently recalled Robert Sacre. 103-87, Lakers victory. The Lakers won on a Kobe milestone night, the world may end on December 21st after all.
Going into the half the Lakers trailed by 1 and looked just as troubled as they did against the Houston Rockets defensively. The Hornets, without #1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis, and highly talented scorer Eric Gordon, outworked the Lakers on the offensive glass. On the night, the Lakers allowed 11 offensive rebounds, with the majority coming in the first portion of the game.
Kobe Bryant started off the night poorly, but once it was all said and done, it was his night to enjoy and bask in. 29 points, 4 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, a handful of dunks (mama' there goes that man), and only 1 turnover on a night that Kobe Bryant joined elite basketball company. The names Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar may ring a bell. Now, Kobe Bryant adds his name into the 30,000 points club.
Going 7-11 from the field Dwight Howard ended the night with 18 points and 8 boards, but his work defensively changed the tone of the game in the second half. Recording 5 blocks, that's just a small taste of how dominant he was. Perhaps someday a "shots altered in the paint because of Dwight" stat will exist, but till then, just use your eyes. The Hornets couldn't get anything to fall around the rim and only managed to score 16 points in the third quarter (and 39 total in the second half).
As for the role players, the shots were falling from beyond the arc. Antawn Jamison led the three point barrage, scoring 15 points and going 3-6 from deep. He twisted his ankle and exited the game, but post game said he could have returned and will be ready to play the Oklahoma City Thunder. Metta World Peace reached the 12,000 career points plateau by contributing 11 points on 3-7 from beyond the arc. Jodie Meeks off the bench added in another trio of three point baskets and ended the night with 9 points (all of his points coming from long range). The Lakers as a team ended the game shooting 13-28 good for 46.4% from long distance.
Another good sign for the Lakers? Single digit turnovers. A night removed from turning the ball over 18 times, the Lakers took care of their possessions, only coughing it up 9 times. Chris Duhon started at point guard for the second time this season and scored only 3 points, but he racked up 10 dimes and had ZERO turnovers. Get your dance on Duhon.
For the Hornets, Ryan Anderson played exactly as billed. He scored 31 points, going 5-8 from deep, and also had 9 rebounds (5 of them being offensive rebounds). The man can spread the floor, but he also took advantage of mismatches and drove to the rim as he carried the offensive load for his team. Greivis Vasquez played a great game at the point, adding in 16 points and 9 assists. And taking advantage early in the game, Robin Lopez exploited the Lakers rotational defense and scored 15 points and blocked 5 shots. Aside from that, it was nickle and dimes from the various players on the Hornets roster.
Congratulations again to Kobe Bryant on becoming the youngest player in NBA history to score 30,000 points. A solid win to break the Lakers out of the funk they were in, right before the hardest game on their schedule thus far Friday against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Full recap in the morning
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