Steve Nash sat out with a strained right hamstring (per Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times), while Metta World Peace incredibly returned from knee surgery to play his first game since March 25.
Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard both started strong with double-digit first halves, as Kobe Bryant scored just four points through two quarters. Everything was going swimmingly for the Lakers until New Orleans went on a 17-2 run over the final five minutes, 38 seconds of the second quarter. Suddenly, the Lakers were down by five.
Mike D'Antoni clearly had something of import to say at halftime, because L.A. reeled off an early run in the second half. They finished the third quarter deadlocked with the Hornets at 70.
And then Kobe Bryant finally woke up from his nap. The Black Mamba scored seven unanswered points in 80 seconds to open the fourth, duplicating his scoring total from the first three quarters. Kobe dropped 23 points in the final frame and drove the Lakers to victory.
The Lakers came into Tuesday at 40-37, and struggling to beat the 27-50 Hornets is not an encouraging sign. But their strong play to close out the game could help them finish strong over the final four games.
Now let's put on our tweed jacket with leather patches and give out some grades.