Hornets at Lakers preview: Five to stay alive

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers enter the final five games of their 2012-2013 regular season with their playoff hopes on the brink of becoming shattered china.

Showtime

7:30 p.m. PT

Plot

It's that time again. Here's an obligatory sentence including "must win" and "big game" for the Los Angeles Lakers as they take on the New Orleans Hornets at Staples Center. After falling short at home on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers are once again chasing playoff dreams without a lottery draft pick to soothe any wounds that may be inflicted should they miss the brackets.

On the bright side, Metta World Peace will be back with the team after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus just two weeks ago. On Monday Mike D'Antoni dropped an "80 or 90 percent chance" quote, and it is now official that The Roninator will be activated. On the other hand, it's a very fast turn-around on his first knee surgery, so it's best to remain cautious. D'Antoni will play Metta off the bench and he is expected to play around the 20 minute mark.

At this point for the Lakers any help they can get, no matter how small or limited i minutes, is huge. With the excessive amount of minutes Kobe Bryant has put on himself, and Mike D'Antoni has watched while acknowledging as much, having another player on the wings can help alleviate even a sliver of that workload. Though, with such small margin of error remaining for the Lakers, it's still very possible Kobe refuses to leave the court and plays something in the 47 mark again.

No matter how it happens, though, the Lakers need to win. They need to play well in these final five games. Is this time to drop the also-obligatory "haven't won both games in a back-to-back" spiel? Well, there you have it. They have to win at home in Los Angeles on Tuesday, then have to win in Portland against the Trail Blazers on Wednesday. While Portland may be missing three key players (Wesley Matthews will be out, Nicolas Batum is doubtful, and J.J. Hickson is questionable), winning at the Rose Garden is always a challenge. Put into the context of this season, and it's clear the Lakers will have a dog-fight in Portland.

Or, the perfect storm was brewed on the second-game, and the Lakers snap the streak. Either way, wins are all that matter, and the Lakers need these next two while they play the battle of who slips fast between themselves and the Utah Jazz. The Jazz host the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night, and many a Lakers fan will be pulling for Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.

The last time the Hornets and Lakers met was in the midst of the Lakers post All-Star break miracle game stretch. I'd imagine since then New Orleans has been drilled about setting for inbounds defense. Steve Blake will has his work cut out for him again as he lines up with Greivis Vasquez. After having to defend Mike Conley, then Chris Paul, Blake has another tough match up. On a side note, there has been official word on Steve Nash, though D'Antoni expressed doubts during the Lakers' shootaround on Tuesday.

So win. Win today. Win tomorrow. Will through April 17th. It starts tonight though, and with a little luck and help from the Thunder, the Lakers can once again claim the driver's seat for their playoff chances.

On This Soundtrack

Tame Impala - Apocalypse Dreams

- Drew

- Follow this author on Twitter @DrewGarrisonSBN

- At the Hive will be something bird related next season, say goodbye to the New Orleans Hornets, and hello to the Pelicans.

- Los Angeles Lakers Tickets

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