The Los Angeles Lakers looked like they were primed to run away with their third straight win, but a furious run by the New Orleans Hornets in the last five minutes of the game made things a little more interesting than Kobe Bryant and Co. would have liked.
In the end, L.A. prevailed thanks to its best ball movement of the season and a terrific bench performance from Antawn Jamison.
The Lakers registered a season-high 34 assists on 39 made baskets, and Bryant was at the center of the team's new-found penchant for passing. Kobe had a team high 11 assists, which gave him a three-game total of 39 during L.A.'s recent winning streak.
The pick-and-roll was effective, Pau Gasol had seven assists of his own and Dwight Howard put up 24 points on just 13 shots. In other words, the Lakers' offense looked like everyone thought it would before the season started.
Contributions came from just about everywhere, as Earl Clark hit four threes and the aforementioned Jamison led all Laker reserves with 16 points—including a huge bucket with less than a minute remaining that made it a two-possession game.
New Orleans got great performances from Eric Gordon and Anthony Davis, who each made 7-of-12 shots and combined for 43 points. If Ryan Anderson could have heated up a little earlier, the Hornets easily could have won this game. But the NBA's leader in three-point makes shot just 6-of-15 and only started scoring during the Hornets late, ultimately ill-fated run.
The Lakers moved to 20-25 with the win, while the Hornets fell to 15-30 in defeat.
Going forward, L.A. looks to have found the offensive rhythm that has been eluding it all season. Defense is still an issue and the aging Laker core played far too many minutes on the front end of a back-to-back set, though. So there are still plenty of issues to resolve.
Final Score: Lakers 111, Hornets 106