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The Lakers avoided another four-game losing streak in fine fashion, as they led virtually all the way, in a surprisingly-easy 103-88 win against the Hornets in New Orleans on Wednesday.
After the loss on Tuesday against the Spurs, coach Phi Jackson decided to shake up the lineup, and put Andrew Bynum into the starting five for the first time this season, thus moving Lamar Odom back to his familiar sixth man role. And did that move pay off on this night for both players.
Odom scored a game-high 24 points on 10-15 from the floor, the most points scored by a Laker bench since 2005 when Tierre Brown had 27 against Atlanta. He also had a highlight play when he wrapped the ball behind his back on a drive to the rim, and after missing the layup, casually slammed home his own rebound. It was that kind of night for the Lakers.
Andrew Bynum scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds in his first start of the season, and is looking more comfortable now as he works his way back from knee surgery. Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, hitting 8-14 shots from the field, and needed to play less than 28 minutes in the win. Pau Gasol had 11 points (on only five shots) and 12 rebounds.
The Lakers led 26-23 after one quarter, but outscored the Hornets 33-18 in the second, for a 59-41 halftime advantage. The Hornets never got closer than 13 points in the second half, as the Lakers cruised to their seventh win in their last 11 meetings in New Orleans.
For the game, the Lakers shot 58.6% from the field, and at one point late in the second quarter were still shooting over 70%. They also held the Hornets to just 41.8% from the floor, and 4-16 (25.0%) from the three-point line. The Lakers also dominated on the boards, holding a 44-24 rebounding advantage. In fact the Hornets only had 18 defensive rebounds, that’s how well it on both sides of the ball for the Lakers.
Chris Paul led the Hornets with 20 points and seven assists, but wasn’t really able to be much of a factor as he usually is against the Lakers. Marco Belinelli had 15 points, most of them in the second half when the game was out of reach. He only shot 4-16 from the floor for the game.
The Hornets did have a scary moment when leading-scorer David West went down with an ankle injury after landing on Ron Artest’s foot in the second quarter. He left the game, but did return for the second half. He scored just eight points in 28 minutes.
With their losing streak behind them, the Lakers play their next three games at home. The first will be New Year’s Eve against the Philadelphia 76ers. This will be the second meeting of the year between the two teams. The Lakers won the first meeting 93-81 in Philadelphia back on December 17th behind Lamar Odom’s 28 points.
If you’re anywhere near a television today and have NBA TV, the station will be playing games and programs associated with the Lakers all throughout the day, in honor of Phil Jackson’s 65th birthday.
Shows rotated include a replay of Game 7 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers. Of course everyone remembers that game. Watch the Lakers’ furious fourth quarter rally highlighted by the “Bryant…to Shaq” alley-oop in the final minute to seal the Lakers first trip to the NBA Finals since 1991.
You can also watch Game 1 of the 2001 Western Conference Semi-Finals, a tough game the Lakers won 108-105 on their way to sweeping the Kings, and putting together the NBA’s best-ever postseason at 15-1. It of course culminated with a second straight title after a 5-game win over the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals.
Game 3 of the 2002 NBA Finals will be on. That was the tightest of the games against New Jersey, as the Lakers went on to “threepeat” and sweep the Nets 4-0.
They’re also showing Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. We all remember how that one ended, so please enjoy watching the Leprechauns go down again.
There’s also two shows on both the 2009 title team and the back-to-back champs of 2010.
So enjoy a full day of Lakers on the tube. You can check your local TV listings or the guide on your cable box for exact times of these programs today.