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Lakers-Hornets Preview: As NBA Explodes, Lakers Visit Ground Zero

The preview for today's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets is going to be pretty short because, let's be honest, you don't really care. Not with the trade deadline 24 hours away. Not with Dwight Howard trolling the entire NBA world with a ridiculous cat and mouse game in which he may or may not be signing away his ability to become a free agent this season (delaying the whole ordeal by one calendar year). Not with the Knicks going from Linsanity to D'annihiliation in two short weeks. Not with crazy possibilities of Deron Williams or Michael Beasley or Ramon Sessions coming to town. Let's face it, the world's interest in the NBA has nothing to do with actual basketball tonight, and we are no exception. The NBA world is exploding, more violently it seems than it did in the summer of 2010.

How ironic then, that tonight's opponent is the New Orleans Hornets who, combined with our beloved home team, symbolize the beginning of the descent into madness that the trade deadline is now bringing to fruition. I don't have to remind you of the Chris Paul trade that wasn't. We feel it whenever Pau Gasol looks sad, or whenever a big man not named Lamar Odom checks into the game in the 1st quarter. Before there was The Decision 2.0, there was David Stern vetoing this trade. Before there was Mike D'Antoni's resignation, there was Lamar Odom's trade demand. If this season is to be known as the craziest in NBA history, as the events of the past 24 hours seems ready to make it, it is fitting that the Lakers and Hornets, the teams that started it all, have a reunion tonight.

The Hornets, well, they are terrible. The worst team in the Western Conference and only the laughable Charlotte Bobcats and Washington Wizards prevent them from the worst record in the league. Instead of fielding a decent team with Lamar Odom and the host of talented Houston Rockets headed their way for Chris Paul, David Stern demanded a small payroll and building for the future. It was probably the right choice, but we'll only know for sure if New Orleans still has a basketball team in five years. As it turns out, being terrible to be good is the right strategy for a small market team, but it doesn't jibe so well with a team maintaining interest in a volatile market. The Hornets are currently ranked 23rd in attendance and don't have an owner ... so, yeah.

The Lakers, well, they are terrible on the road. Having just lost to Detroit and Washington in the last week, you know the Lakers are capable of defeat to a team the caliber of the Hornets. New Orleans probably has less talent than any team in the league (especially with Eric Gordon missing so much time this season) but they've got a decent coach in Monty Williams who gets his guys to play hard. The Lakers definitely know how to take an opponent like this for granted, and they are on the second night of a back to back having played double overtime in picking up a big win yesterday. So it doesn't matter what New Orleans' record is, this is an eminently lose-able game for the purple and gold.

Can Kobe really play 50 minutes one night and be effective the next? Can the team avoid the pitfalls of taking a lesser opponent for granted? Will the schedule loss overcome the obvious gap in talent between the two rosters? To be honest, I'll hardly be paying enough attention to tell, because I won't be able to take my eyes off the NBA going Super-Nova.

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