The Los Angeles Lakers played host to the New Orleans Hornets Tuesday night, and while it was too close for comfort late, the home team pulled out a gutsy 110-104 win.
L.A. entered the contest playing some of the best basketball of the 2012-13 season. They were coming off back-to-back wins against playoff opponents in the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, and they had gotten brilliantly selfless performances from Kobe Bryant.
While everybody has wanted to talk about Bryant's assists, the entire Lakers team came out moving the ball in this one. They were swinging the ball from side to side, they were looking down low to Dwight Howard, and they recorded 13 assists on their first 15 baskets.
As good as the Lakers were offensively, they allowed New Orleans to be nearly as effective early. They led by just one after the first period, and it wouldn’t be until the bench took over that L.A. would finally establish momentum. The Hornets began to slip at the start of the second, L.A. went on a quick 17-0 run, and they ended up taking a 12-point lead into halftime.
The second half began in similar fashion, but the script would be flipped before it was all said and done. New Orleans came storming back to make things interesting, and a 20-4 run brought them within one point at the two-minute mark of the final period.
But it was once again ball movement and open looks that got the Lakers their 20th win of the season.
This was the third game in a row where we saw L.A. stick with what works, and while three games is an extremely small sample size, you have to believe that the team is beginning to understand how they have to play moving forward.