This is a matchup of the two best teams in the Western Conference last season. The last time the teams met was near the end of the regular season on a hot weekend for the Lakers when they beat the defending champion Spurs and the Hornets who had the best record in the Western Conference.
This early Western Conference showdown will be the first of several back to back road games for the Lakers. The Lakers are a young team and back-to-back games shouldn’t be a problem they’re also one the leagues two remaining undefeated teams standing at 6-0.
The Lakers sixth win of the season was exactly what skeptical fans and naysayers wanted to see this season, the Lakers had to struggle in a hostile environment, did not shoot well and have the game close at the end.
The above mentioned types received that and more in the Lakers win over Dallas. The team overcame a double-digit deficit for the second straight game and proved that even when they don’t play their best and it appears that it isn’t their night they can lay their hat on knowing that if they hang around their defense and Kobe Bryant will pull them through.
It’s the first time since Dec. 10-12, 2006 that the Lakers have won consecutive games in which they had trailed by 10 or more points.
The New Orleans Hornets are 4-2 after cooling off the Heat 100-89 on Nov. 10. Chris Paul has set an NBA record by hitting both the 20-point and 10-assist marks for six straight games to begin a season. This is historical due to the fact that he passes a mark set by Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson. He also added seven rebounds to his record setting night.
He’ll be facing the league’s stingiest defense at 84.4 points per game in this matchup.
The biggest difference for the Lakers this season is speeding up the pace and running, looking to score in transition or easy baskets. When the defense is set up the Lakers have no problem running their patented triangle offense.
PG Derek Fisher 6’ 1” 210 lbs. 12thYear, Avg. 9.5 Pts, 3.0 Ast, 2.5 Reb, 1 Stl
PG Chris Paul 6’ 0” 175 lbs. 4th Year, Avg. 21.3 Pts, 11.7 Ast, 5.2 Reb, 4 Stl
This is a matchup of two veteran point guards. Chris Paul is athletic and a masterful ball handler who can push the ball at a high rate of speed but is also adept at slowing down enough to get the team into their sets. He is dangerous when he can get into the painted are with his dribble penetration, this is when he gets his teammates involved and becomes more of a problem.
The Hornets run the pick and roll play a million times and Chris Paul has his choice of which direction to go with the ball score or distribute the ball. The Lakers might want to force him to become a scorer to avoid getting his teammates involved.
Derek Fisher is a savvy veteran who can play at any tempo. In the triangle offense he doesn’t have to dominate the ball and run the offense as a traditional point guard. He does an excellent job of getting the team going and spreading the floor, He is a dangerous shooter out of the triangle offense and in transition.
SG Morris Peterson 6’ 7” 220 lbs. 8th Year, Avg. 9.7 Pts, 0.7 Ast, 3.0 Reb, 1.7 Stl.
SF Peja Stojakovic 6’ 10” 229 lbs. 10th Year, Avg. 15.2 Pts, 2 Ast, 4.6 Reb
PF David West 6’ 9” 240 lbs. 5th Year, Avg. 19.0 Pts, 3.0 Ast, 6.7 Reb
David West is a solid player and outstanding scorer from 12-15 feet, posting up and in the painted area. The team’s second leading score, he has been inconsistent and has gotten off to slow starts but is still highly effective. He will have his hands full being guarded by and having to check Pau Gasol.
Gasol is an excellent scorer and passer out of the post and will command a double team that will open up the offense. Gasol is a smooth player that will start at power forward but will also play center and record a double-double nightly and have a huge impact on the outcome of this game.
C Tyson Chadler 7’ 1” 235 lbs. 7th Year, Avg. 9.2 Pts, 1.0 Ast, 10.0 Reb, 2 Blocks
Tyson Chadler scored a total of 11 points in two games since returning from a sprained ankle. He is the epitome of a high fly act that can jump out of the gym and the Hornets main shot blocker. Several of his points come on put backs and alley-oop passes from Chris Paul. Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol both out-weigh Chandler and need to keep a body on him and between him and the basket.
Andrew Bynum is rapidly developing both offensively and defensively, he is 2nd in the league in blocked shots. Serving as the Lakers last line of defense and protecting the rim has been huge. It was something that the team missed for 47 games last season and the entire playoff run. Pau Gasol will also log minutes at center and the combination will be deadly.
Both teams have capable bench players that can provide rest for the starters and continue the team’s high level of play. The Lakers “Minute Men” have more depth and contributors; the bench that averaged 32 points per game last year has boosted that number to 42 points this season.
The addition of Lamar Odom to the bench but playing starter’s minutes has been huge. He has sacrificed his game for the good of the team in a contract year. The Lakers bench of Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Trevor Ariza, Sasha Vujacic and others has been literally changing the pace of the game and taking this team to another level.