April 16, 2013
LA Lakers beat New Orleans Hornets and clinch berth
The Lakers can´t afford to lose more games, but there´s a good chance they´ll make it into the postseason.
By Stephen Lars
So here is what we´ve figured out so far. The Lakers are by no means the team that dominated the NBA for the better part of the last decade. This season, despite the big negotiations that brought Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to the franchise, the Lakers have struggled greatly ever since the preseason, when they loss all of the practice games they played going into this year. It just seems as if head coach, Mike D’Antoni hasn’t been able to figure out a way to get Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant to really fit in with Nash and Howard.
Mike D’Antoni hasn’t been able to figure out a way to get Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant to really fit in with Nash and Howard.
Consider for a moment that sure enough because of various injuries, the four big stars of the Lakers have only managed to play 19 games together this season. Interestingly enough, when playing together, Gasol, Bryant, Nash and Howard have only managed to win 6 of those 19 games. On the other hand, when only three of the big four players play together, the Lakers are 26-13 and it is perhaps that variable 3-player combination that has managed to make this team hold onto the last spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.
Now, this team has managed to win 41 games this season, and they are now on their way to yet another presentation in the Playoffs. Now, the chances of making it into the next round are, to put it mildly, ridiculous. Yes, they had to once again rely on a powerful run in the fourth quarter from Kobe Bryant to be able to take a 104-96 win over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday night. Bryant finished with 30 points, including 23 in the final 12 minutes of the game, and 6 rebounds, 6 steels, and 6 assists. "It is really just about me making shots. It is not really the defense," said Bryant in the postgame press conference. Kobe was seen wearing ice packs on his left shoulder and both knees after the game. "They keyed in on my penetration, but I know I could range over the defense and get the shot. So, with games like this, when the jumper is falling, you have fourth quarters like I had."
The Spaniard Pau Gasol, who has repeatedly been criticized for been soft, proved that he might be back in good shape for the postseason as he finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Dwight Howard chipped in with 19 points and 6 rebounds in what was a decent effort from the team as a whole. The Lakers are now half a game ahead of the Utah Jazz. The Jazz lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder 90-80 earlier in the evening. It is still uncertain which of these two teams is going to get the final ticket into the Playoffs. Yet, it is important to underline that the tiebreaker between LA and Utah belongs to the Jazz.
The visiting team had an overall good performance. Eric Gordon guided the Hornets with scored 22 points, including 10 of 11 free. Anthony Davis added 18 points and 14 rebounds, Ryan Anderson had 14 points, and Greivis Vasquez had 11 points and 11 assists. Not enough for a win, but they gave a good show.
Stephen Lars is a prominent sports blogger and currently covers the Sports news, previews and handicaps for the BetIAS Sportsbook. You may reprint this article in its full content, please note no modifications to it are accepted.