COMMENTARY | 24 hours after news broke that the New Orleans Hornets intend to change their name to the Pelicans, the team made news on the court for a change. The Hornets welcomed the Los Angeles Lakers to New Orleans with Kobe Bryant just 13 points shy of 30,000. Just before halftime, Kobe reached the 30,000-point milestone as the Lakers cruised to a 103-87 win over the Hornets.
As a diehard Hornets' fan living in New Orleans, nothing would have made me happier than to see the Lakers lose on the night Kobe Bryant reached 30,000 points. Even before the Hornets moved to New Orleans, the Lakers have always been my least favorite NBA team. Unfortunately, the Lakers' role players contributed to the cause as the Hornets continued to struggle with perimeter defense in the second half.
Of course, NBA commissioner David Stern was in New Orleans to witness Kobe Bryant score 30,000 points. As a writer, I have been highly critical of Stern through the years. But there is no denying that David Stern made it his personal crusade to keep the Hornets in New Orleans. The devastation of Hurricane Katrina and the lack of an owner could have easily had the Hornets playing in Seattle tonight. In retrospect, Stern deserves the key to the city.
One of my greatest memories as a Hornets' fan will always be the 2011 NBA Playoffs. New Orleans shocked the NBA world not only by making the Western Conference Playoffs but also by defeating the Lakers twice. Chris Paul played out of his mind versus the Lakers in his curtain call for the Hornets. Unfortunately, the current New Orleans NBA team bears little resemblance to that overachieving squad.
Individually, many of the Hornets continue to shine offensively. Ryan Anderson outscored Kobe Bryant on his 30,000-point night as the New Orleans forward scored 31 points. But the Hornets always seem to look like they use halftime to take a nap instead of using the intermission to make adjustments. The Lakers outscored New Orleans 30-16 in the third quarter and they made 13 of 28 three-point attempts on the night.
Moving forward, New Orleans should be greatly improved on defense once Anthony Davis returns. His presence in the paint should allow New Orleans' guards to stay on the perimeter instead of playing help defense. The problem is that no one knows when Davis will return. I applaud the Hornets for exercising caution with Anthony Davis as the franchise cannot afford a Greg Oden situation. But his injury is making the 2012-13 season feel like Purgatory.
The Hornets had a golden opportunity to defeat the Lakers and spoil Kobe Bryant's 30,000-point milestone party, but they failed to take advantage. Maybe the Pelicans will oust the Lakers from the NBA Playoffs in 2015.
Patrick Michael was born in New Orleans and currently resides in the Big Easy. A loyal New Orleans NBA fan, Patrick was a diehard New Orleans Jazz fan and now cheers for the Hornets. Patrick was in attendance the night the Hornets were one win away from the Western Conference Finals. Follow Patrick Michael on Twitter at patmichael84.
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