This is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you. Recap below the jump.
The difference in the game was in the second quarter – the Lakers outscored the Hornets by 15 in that quarter, and it was all over but the shouting by the time the halftime buzzer sounded. So how did that huge first-half deficit come about?
The Hornets were doomed by two things: field goal percentage and rebounding. In the first half, the Lakers only missed 11 shots, and they had six offensive rebounds. Yeah, that's bad - a defensive rebounding percentage beneath 50%. The Lakers were getting their shots through their massive size advantage down low and their mismatches. The Lakers quickly went to their three-big lineup, with Odom, Pau, and Bynum all getting heavy minutes in the first half. This caused size mismatches with the Hornets, who are thin on big defenders. The Lakers' size advantage over the Hornets meant that Ariza was unavailable to guard Kobe, who was defended by a thoroughly overmatched Marco Belinelli.
Therefore, the size advantage of the Lakers meant that they could take good interior shots (I think the Lakers didn't attempt a 3 until the second quarter) that were easy to convert, causing the Hornets defense to collapse, which left the Lakers with open outside shots in the second quarter, and mismatches across the floor to exploit. As a result, the Lakers were able to rack up a ridiculous shooting percentage from the floor in the first half.
Sure, the Hornets' terrible rebounding didn't help their cause, but the main reason the rebounding margin was so lopsided was because the Lakers didn't miss any shots and the Hornets missed plenty, meaning that the Lakers had a lot more easy to gather rebounds. And when the Lakers are able to get second chances on half their misses, they're going to rack up a large margin.
So how were the Hornets able to keep it so tight in the first quarter? Turnovers. The Lakers turned the ball over five times in the first seven minutes, which allowed the Hornets to build a small lead before the Lakers went on a massive tear to end the first half. In the end, the only team that was able to stop the Lakers tonight was wearing blue.
Random odds and ends:
- This nasty loss obscures a very fine performance from Chris Paul. He had 20 points on 14 shots, and really kept the team in the game in the early going. He added seven assists and 3 steals and only turned the ball over three times. He was magnificent in stretches, dominating on the offensive end. When he wasn't driving the offense, it sputtered.
- Ariza and Belinelli were absolutely atrocious, on offense and defense. There's little else to be said.
- This game didn't go as bad as it could have – thankfully David West's injury wasn't serious.
- The Hornets are travelling to Boston to face the Celtics on Friday... who's excited?