Tue Jan 06 05:00pm EST
Pretty simple, really. The Lakers are ridiculously good, and the Hornets are upstartingly good. Top-heavy good. Chris Paul is really, really good. Let's just say it like that.
Laker fans and their rotary phones made this NBA TV's game of the night, I don't think I'm going to capitalize those letters, and the punters made the right call. Sure, the Lakers had their way with the Hornets for most of last month's 13-point win, and the game is in Los Angeles, but you can never discount the CP-factor.
Add that to the fact that Los Angeles' most obvious weakness is defending the point guard position, despite Derek Fisher's effort, and despite the continued bunk you hear about Kobe Bryant always taking on the opponent's best player.
(Another pet peeve of mine that, despite NBA TV's best efforts, is slowly going away. Can't we just allow Kobe Bean to be the awesome player he is? Does he have to turn into some weird amalgamation of who we thought Michael Jordan was? MJ didn't even take on the opponent's best perimeter player most nights.)
Tyson Chandler is back, suspension's over, and don't be surprised if Paul drops 30 or so in the loss. Phil Jackson's defensive mindset has long been to force the point guard baseline, force him into being a scorer, and limit the assists. Paul, who as averaged 11.5 assists against the Lakers this year (along with 23.5 points) doesn't figure to be shoved baseline too easily.
Los Angeles Lakers: 27-5, 95.0 possessions per game (4th), 112.9 points scored per 100 possessions (3rd), 102.4 points allowed per 100 possessions (4th).
New Orleans Hornets: 20-10, 87.2 possessions per game (29th), 109.1 points scored per 100 possessions (8th), 104.7 points allowed per 100 possessions (9th).