When everything goes right, the Los Angeles Lakers look like a pretty decent basketball team. Tonight, everything went right. The Lakers were easy victors against the same New Orleans Pelicans who ran away from them down the stretch just last Friday night. Tonight's game was a completely different story. After a slow start, the Lakers scored 30 + points in each of the last three quarters and New Orleans struggled mightily with their offense, leading to a fourth quarter's worth of garbage time. LA entered the game with the league's 2nd worst shooting percentage (40.6%), but shot better than 55% from the floor, and from three point range, draining 11 of 20 outside attempts. New Orleans, meanwhile, entered the game as the league's best three point shooting team, but did not hit a single three pointer until a late surge, well after the game was already decided, left them at 3-10 on the night overall.
The story before the game was Jordan Hill's debut as a member of the starting lineup. The return was triumphant. Hill notched a team and personal career high of 21 points, and a team leading 11 rebounds in 26 minutes. A lot of Hill's scoring was set up by other folks (Steve Blake was particularly fine at delivering bounce passes for easy Hill scores), but Hill's performance will do nothing to quell the appetite Lakers nation has to see him get more playing time, nor will it stop people from asking why it took so long for him to get a run with the starters.
But Hill was not the only story. With Wesley Johnson also starting at small forward, Nick Young and Xavier Henry came off the bench together for the first time, and they combined to form a 1-2 substitute scoring punch for which New Orleans had no answer. Swaggy P was awesome, with 17 points on 7-11 shooting, but X was the star of the game, busting out of his slump to the tune of 15 points on 6-8 shooting and 3-3 from 3 point range. Also, too:
Nine games in, it seems clear the Lakers are the pre-eminent Feast or Famine team in the league. When they are bad, they are truly, truly awful, but not tonight. Tonight, they feasted, and so did we.