Hornets Top Lakers for Fourth Straight Win
New Orleans/Oklahoma City 106, L.A. Lakers 90
OKLAHOMA CITY, Feb. 4 (Ticker) -- Both rookie Chris Paul and Kobe Bryant played well for their respective teams. The difference was that Paul had help.
Paul narrowly missed a triple-double as he collected 19 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds as the New Orleans Hornets rolled to a 106-90 triumph over the reeling Los Angeles Lakers.
"We can have all the excuses in the world," Bryant said. "You can say we're young, we have guys hurt, but we just have man up and be ready to play every night."
The NBA's leading scorer, Bryant had 19 points in the opening period but was unable to give Los Angeles the lead at any point. The Lakers have not held a lead since second quarter of Wednesday's loss at Indiana - spanning 127 minutes and 10 periods.
"We can't feel sorry for ourselves," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "That's the great thing about basketball, you have to go out there and play another game. We're just going to have to bounce back."
The absence of the 6-10 Odom and the 7-foot Mihm was also a detriment on the defensive end as the Hornets held a 50-18 advantage in the paint.
"It was definitely a part of our struggles tonight," said Lakers forward Devean George, who scored 21 points off the bench. "(The Hornets) have some guys who are having good seasons this year and that is the real key to any offense."
The Hornets continually attacked the basket and were able to shoot 57 percent (42-of-74) thanks to a plethora of layups and dunks against their shorthanded counterparts.
Desmond Mason scored 21 points for the Hornets, who had all five starters score in double figures en route to their fourth straight victory - matching their longest winning streak of the season.
"We have one of those teams where six guys scoring in double digits can be the case night in, night out," Paul said. "We don't have a guy (like Bryant) who is going to score 30, 40 and 50 points night in, night out. It will always be a team effort."
"That's the type of team we are." Hornets forward P.J. Brown said. "Everybody has to be on their A game. When everybody is playing well and doing their part, we are a tough team to beat."
The Hornets took charge of the game late in the second quarter with a 14-0 burst, which Mason bookended with a three-point play and a 3-pointer, to make it 56-41 with 58 second left in the half.
Los Angeles cut its deficit to seven points with four minutes left in the third quarter but the Hornets responded with a 9-0 charge that made it 78-62 with 2:44 to go in the session. The Lakers got no closer than 10 points thereafter.