Los Angeles (13-3) is holding opponents to an average of 90.8 points during its winning streak after surrendering at least 100 in its previous three contests. The Lakers are coming off one of their best games of the season defensively, albeit against winless New Jersey in a 106-87 victory Sunday night.
“The defense is getting better and better,” Los Angeles star Kobe Bryant(notes) said. “We’re working really, really hard at it. Energy has been consistent. This is something we feel like we can maintain.”
Los Angeles held New Orleans (7-10) to 36.5 percent shooting in a 104-88 home win Nov. 8, even though Paul and Stojakovic both played.
Paul, who had 15 points and nine assists, is now out indefinitely with a sprained ankle. Stojakovic, meanwhile, missed New Orleans’ 112-96 loss to Sacramento on Sunday night due to personal reasons, and it’s uncertain if he’ll rejoin the Hornets in time to face the Lakers.
Stojakovic is averaging 11.6 points while making 38.8 percent of his shots from 3-point range. James Posey(notes) replaced him in the starting lineup versus the Kings and scored eight points in 41 minutes.
New Orleans has lost two of three after winning its previous three. The Hornets have dropped four straight on the road and are 1-9 away from New Orleans Arena.
West will likely draw Los Angeles defensive stopper Ron Artest(notes), whose scoring has fallen in his first season on the talent-rich Lakers. Artest has posted 12.2 points per game, nearly five below last season’s average, but is shooting 39.1 percent from 3-point range.
Bryant made five 3-pointers and finished with 30 points against the Nets. He went into that contest with seven 3-pointers made this season, and he’s now shooting 27.9 percent (12 for 43) from beyond the arc.
Backup point guard Jordan Farmar(notes), meanwhile, is 5 for 8 from long range over his last two games, scoring a total of 25 points during that span. The former first-round pick has given Los Angeles a boost with starter Derek Fisher(notes) off to an inconsistent start.
“I like the aggressiveness,” Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said of Farmar. “There are obviously things that I want him to do a little bit better all the time, and that’s natural. … That aggressiveness he has with the basketball in the end of quarters is really important for us. We really need that.”