GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score New Orleans Hornets 19 22 22 21 84
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 30 27 17 28 102


Lakers hold off Hornets, go to 15-1 since break

By GREG BEACHAM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 30 points, Pau Gasol had 23 points and 16 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers inched closer to the top of the overall NBA standings with their 15th win in 16 games since the All-Star break, 102-84 over the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday night.

Andrew Bynum added 13 points in the Lakers' seventh straight win. The two-time defending NBA champions jumped to an 18-point lead in the first half and weathered the Hornets' fourth-quarter rally to sweep the four-game season series with a possible first-round playoff opponent.

Carl Landry had a season-high 24 points and 10 rebounds, and Chris Paul had 10 points and nine assists in the Hornets' second game without injured scoring leader David West.

With their remarkable five-week surge since hosting the All-Star game, the Lakers (53-20) have pulled within a half-game of Chicago (53-19) for the NBA's second-best record, something that could come in handy if the Lakers reach their fourth straight NBA finals.

The Lakers also pulled within four games of the NBA-leading San Antonio Spurs (57-16), who lost at Memphis. Both teams have nine games to go, including a meeting at Staples Center on April 12.

Bynum and Lamar Odom both struggled with foul trouble, negating much of the Lakers' large advantages inside against New Orleans. Bryant missed five of his six 3-point attempts, but otherwise scored easily and often.

Shortly after Shannon Brown raised the Staples Center roof with a double-pump, hand-switching dunk in the second quarter, the Lakers had a 12-1 run and took a 57-41 lead into the break.

New Orleans pulled within 78-72 on Quincy Pondexter's jumper with 8:17 to play, but the Lakers made a 12-4 run, capped by Steve Blake's 3-pointer.

Emeka Okafor had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Landry was a whirlwind of activity in his second straight start for the Hornets, who aren't looking forward to life without West.

The two-time All-Star is done for the season after tearing a ligament in his left knee during Thursday's win at Utah. New Orleans then knocked off Phoenix in the middle stop on a three-game road trip, but coach Monty Williams realizes his team must make a profound readjustment just to stay in the postseason picture.

Memphis' win over the Spurs pulled the Grizzlies within one game of the seventh-place Hornets.

"We just have to figure out ways to win games in tough circumstances," Williams said. "It's brought us closer together as a team, but it's tough. It's going to be a grind."

Williams said he's "racking my brain every night" to figure out effective lineups that don't include West.

NOTES: Okafor spent Saturday in Anaheim cheering on his Connecticut Huskies as they advanced to their fourth Final Four. Okafor led UConn to the 2004 title. ... A camera crew from the reality show Odom is filming with wife Khloe Kardashian was in the Lakers' locker room before the game. ... Fans near courtside included Tom Cruise, January Jones, David Beckham, Jennifer Carpenter, Mark Harmon, Teri Hatcher, Simon Baker, Vanessa Hudgens, Ralph Macchio, Jeremy Piven and A.C. Green.


Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited




3 Straight games of at least 30 points for Kobe Bryant, who hit the 30-point mark in the final minute on 11-of-25 field goals. He dropped 37 and 42 in his previous two games.

9 Straight home wins for the Lakers.

18 The biggest lead attained by the Lakers; New Orleans led by three early in the first quarter, but then fought an uphill battle.

24 Points for Carl Landry, playing in place of David West, who tore his ACL for the Hornets last week.

40.2 New Orleans's shooting percentage, which resulted in this quote from Phil Jackson after the game: "I thought we played real good defensively." Jackson did note a stretch in the third quarter that he wasn't pleased with on D, but was otherwise content.

50 Points in the paint for the Lakers, who got 23 in the game from Gasol and 13 from Andrew Bynum.

93.7 L.A.'s winning percentage since the All-Star game with 15 wins in 16 tries.




View More Photos


Points Bryant 30, 11-25 FG
Rebounds Gasol 16, 4 OFF 12 DEF
Assists Bryant 5
Steals Artest 3
Blocks Gasol 4


POSTGAME QUOTES

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on the Lakers offense tonight:
"We had some things going okay for us. Kobe and Pau obviously scored, but I think we did some good things moving the ball."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on the Lakers bench play:
"I wasn't happy with the end of the third quarter and some of the second quarter. They had open shots, they worked the ball the right way, and Shannon had some good looks. They just didn't go down."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Andrew Bynum's aggressiveness down low:
"Andrew has came back to play aggressively. He's thrown out any kind of concern he has with health issues and is just going out and playing."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on what he wants to see from the Lakers in the last ten games:
"I think we have to get some guys shooting well and get some rhythm. We have to get some rhythm on offense. Defensively, we're doing some things that are pretty good, but I thought [Carl] Landry hurt us tonight in the post…There is some work we have to do in that area."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on if he would still be fearful of the Hornets in the playoffs considering the Lakers swept them in the regular season:
"'Fearful' is a word that I wouldn't say. Concerned, yes. They have a general out there with the ball in his hands that's very capable of controlling the game. We had [Carl] Landry hit us up for some points in a row, and then [Emeka] Okafor got going and dominated the boards, I thought. He's a really aggressive offensive board guy. And they got us in foul trouble, which is always an issue if our bigs are in foul trouble."

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Kobe's recent increase in scoring:
"He's been very aggressive offensively. He's also playing a little more minutes than he's played earlier in the season. I've played him some more minutes as he's coming back off this injury. He's not getting a lot of practice time, so he's using his time out there on the court to really get himself ready as we go down the stretch."






Lakers' Andrew Bynum on his performance in tonight's game:
"I did the best I could with the minutes I was provided, and I went out there in the fourth and got something accomplished."

Lakers' Andrew Bynum on the remaining games in the regular season:
"Just, you know, victories. And the way we win is what's important. We need to win with a big gap in between us, play good defense, and that's it."

Lakers' Andrew Bynum on if the upcoming game against Dallas will be of 'playoff like' intensity:
"It definitely will be. We want to secure our spots and that game will pretty much do that for us."

Lakers' Andrew Bynum on how they went 4-0 in games against the Hornet's this season:
"Size differences was usually it. I mean, even though they got a lot of offensive rebounds tonight. Normally, Pau and I have a good night out and Kobe's Kobe."





Lakers' Shannon Brown on his dunk:
"Yeah, you know it was instinctual. Something told me to switch hands, I'd seen him chasing me down, and that's what I did, I switched hands and it ended up happening like that."

Lakers' Shannon Brown on the remaining regular season games:
"We just have got to continue to get better. We want home court advantage, that's what we're striving to get. But we've just got to continue to get better, just got to continue to gel, especially that second unit."

Lakers' Shannon Brown on Thursday's game against Dallas:
"We know Dallas plays us tough every time, we know they're a good team, we know what they've been doing this season. They're just part of us getting better, maturing until the playoffs come."






Lakers' Pau Gasol on what the team's expectations are for the remainder of the season:
"Just to continue to play hard, play together, win as many as we can, finish with the best record we can, and get ourselves mentally and physically ready for the playoffs."

Lakers' Pau Gasol on if the upcoming game against Dallas will be of 'playoff like' intensity:
"I think we have a couple of those coming in these 9 games we have left so it will definitely be an exciting game and it's one we want to make sure we win."

Lakers' Pau Gasol on if the team has peaked:
"I think we have our spurts where we play very well—we have our times that we don't play as well but we still manage to win."








Lakers' Kobe Bryant on what the team's expectations are for the remainder of the season:
"Just continue to work on things we need to work on, sharpen up some things, and stay healthy. Our mental mistakes on defense. There are a couple of things that we need to do."

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on if the upcoming game against Dallas will be of 'playoff like' intensity:

"It will be. I'm sure it will be intense and [we're] looking forward to it."

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on losing a big lead:

"It's disappointing when you blow a big lead but the key is we're able to regroup and push it back up again.

Lakers' Kobe Bryant when questioned if the team needs 'killer instinct':
"No, it's there."







Hornets' Coach Monty Williams on the Hornet's performance in the first quarter:
"They're defending champs. They came out with their length and they were attacking the basket. We didn't come out with that fire that we came out with in Phoenix [Suns] and Utah [Jazz]. I just thought we, for whatever reason waited until the second half; kind of played with a bit of an edge, and I thought they had a lot to do with that."

Hornets' Coach Monty Williams on if his team settled a bit early:
"A little bit, when you have two towers down there it's hard to establish, 6'8" and 6'10". I thought our spacing was a bit jacked up early in the game. I thought the second half we were a lot better and we got some open shots, but Marco [Belinelli] was 4 for 16. Most of our guards tonight didn't shoot it well. I just thought they got timely offensive rebounds and some of our turnovers …I thought Matt Barnes got a big offensive rebound off of a free throw when we were making a run."

Hornets' Coach Monty Williams on his team's overall performance tonight:
"We lost. I can find all kinds of positive stuff to say but the bottom line is we lost. We didn't play our style until late in the second half."

Hornets' Coach Monty Williams on Carl Landry's stepping up tonight:
"He's playing well. He's drawing a double team he has to learn how to pass out of it. If we can get him the ball, just knocking down his jump shot, it helps his game."







Hornets guard Chris Paul on tonight's loss:
"It was just timing I think. If you look at the box score it was pretty much even. They made more shots than us, but it was timely turnovers on our part, and timely baskets on their part. When we made a run, Andrew [Bynum] hit a few shots, then Kobe hit a few."

Hornets guard Chris Paul on if he would like to face a particular team in the playoffs:
"We've just got to get in. I don't care. When it gets to the playoffs anything can happen, it's a whole [new] ball game. You've got to beat a team four times. I feel like we've just got to get into the playoffs. I don't think many teams want to play us."

Hornets guard Chris Paul on how his team's mindset has changed since losing David West:
"Keep competing. It's the NBA, when you lose a guy like [David] West, it's going to be by committee. Other guys have to step up, make shots, make plays, and we have guys that are capable of doing that."





Hornets forward Trevor on matching up against the Lakers:
"I can talk about it but they just have so many options…If you take something away they have something else to use. [Their length was difficult] for us."

Hornets forward Trevor Ariza on the advantage the Lakers had tonight other than their length:
"Well, they have the best player in the world on their team. That helps a lot. And they have another really, really, really good player over there in Pau Gasol, and they have another 7-footer. They just have a lot of talent over there. For some reason we just haven't figured out how to get over the hump against them."



Hornets center Emeka Okafor on how the Lakers pulled away:
"I think there was just a period of time where we just missed shots. From then it was just trying to play catch-up…We just missed a lot of shots. They're a very long team."



Hornets forward Carl Landry on if the Lakers length bothered his team's offense tonight:
"On a couple of my shots [their length bothered me]. They're the tallest team in the league. They've got two 7-footers down there, and sometimes they play big with Lamar at the [small forward], so they're really long. But you've just got to make powerful moves, strong moves and work on finishing with touch around the hoop."

Hornets forward Carl Landry on how the Lakers fended off his team's comeback attempt:
"They went on a run. We had our run too, but we made some key turnovers and they just went on a run at the right time."












LAKERS VS. HORNETS GAME PREVIEW

By MATT BEARDMORE, STATS Writer

Whether or not their last-ditched run at the top seed in the Western Conference falls short, the Los Angeles Lakers could be opening the playoffs against the New Orleans Hornets.

That may work in favor of the two-time defending champions, who look for a seventh straight victory overall and ninth in a row at Staples Center on Sunday night when they play a Hornets team coping with the loss ofDavid West for the season.

Since losing three straight heading into the All-Star break, Los Angeles (52-20) has gone 14-1 to move past Dallas and trim San Antonio's West lead from 8 1/2 to five with 10 games to play for each team. The Lakers host the Spurs on April 12 in the teams' final regular-season matchup.

"The rest of the season we will try to make a legitimate push for the number one seat - that's our goal," Andrew Bynum said after returning from a two-game suspension Friday and scoring 11 points with 12 rebounds in a 112-104 victory over the Clippers.

The Lakers now try to post nine straight home victories for the first time since an 11-game run from Nov. 17-Dec. 22, 2009. Los Angeles has a good chance at moving closer to that mark Sunday because the Hornets (42-31) haven't won any of the teams' three meetings this season, and those came when West was available.

The All-Star forward was lost for the season to a torn left ACL in Thursday's 121-117 overtime win at Utah.

"You never wish injury on somebody. You rather have him play if that's the case," Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "But they're a tough team with one of the best point guards in the game."

That point guard is Chris Paul, who scored 22 points to lead five Hornets in double figures in their first game since West's injury - Friday's 106-100 victory at Phoenix.

"A lot of guys stepped up," said Paul, averaging 22.7 points and 11.3 assists in the last six games. "When you lose someone like D-West you can't just throw one person in there, it has to be by committee."

West not being available is only one reason the Lakers might prefer to face seventh-place New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs, which would be the case if the season ended now. While the Lakers take the court Sunday going for their first season sweep of the Hornets since 2004-05, they have only managed a season split with eighth-place Memphis, which is within two games of New Orleans.

Without West, the Hornets will likely lean heavily on Carl Landry. In his first start since being acquired from Sacramento last month, Landry had 19 points and six rebounds Friday.

"Right before halftime, coach (Monty Williams) just told me to just play, just be yourself," Landry said. "Don't try to be David West, don't try to be something that you're not, don't try to put all the weight on your shoulders."

Kobe Bryant has taken that approach this season, with his minutes per game (33.9) being his fewest since 1997-98 and his 19.8 shots per game his lowest in eight years. However, he's having his fourth-best season in terms of points per 48 minutes with 35.5.

With 37 points versus the Clippers, Bryant matched his best two-game scoring stretch of the season with 79.



Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited




Lakers Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) will play.
Devin Ebanks (stress fracture, left tibia) is out.
Theo Ratliff (left knee surgery) is doubtful.

David West (torn left knee ligament) is out.



12/29 - LAL @ NOH W 103-88
01/07 - NOH @ LAL W 101-98
02/05 - LAL @ NOH W 101-95
03/27 - NOH @ LAL


The New Orleans Hornets opened the season with eight straight wins and had high hopes. Five months later they lost one of their leaders in David West to a torn ACL and now they are fighting for their playoff lives. The last two games show the character of this team. They lost West in the closing moments of a game at Utah on Thursday and still pulled out that game in overtime. Then on Friday night they won a hard fought game at Phoenix to send the message that they still have the talent and desire to play in the postseason. The acquisition of Carl Landry earlier this year gives them a player with similar skills to plug in place of West. We fully expect this team to compete like they always do and we know we will see their solid team defense that keeps them in games.

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


GAME NOTES

SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead the season series with New Orleans 3-0 after taking last season's series from the Hornets 2-1. The Lakers are 8-2 in their last 10 games against the Hornets and have won six of their last seven overall. The Lakers are 7-3 in their last 10 homes games against the Hornets and are 13-4 all-time against the Hornets at STAPLES Center. Since the Hornets move to New Orleans from Charlotte prior to the 2002-03 season, the Lakers have gone 9-3 at New Orleans Arena while going 0-2 at Ford Center in Oklahoma City during their temporary relocation from 2005-07. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 22-9 against the Hornets. In 2006, the Lakers and Hornets took part in the city of New Orleans first professional sports game following Hurricane Katrina when they met at the New Orleans Arena March 8, 2006. The Lakers won that contest 113-107 behind 40 points from Kobe Bryant. In 2006-07, Bryant scored a series record 50 points 3/23/07, becoming just the second player in NBA history to score 50+ points in four consecutive games. In their first meeting of the 2007-08 season (11/6/07), Peja Stojakovic made a Lakers opponent record 10 three-point field goals while Chris Paul became only the 7th Lakers opponent to record at least 21 assists in a game and the first since John Stockton did so in April of 1990. In a January 6, 2009 loss to New Orleans, David West scored a series-high 40 points for the Hornets, surpassing Baron Davis' old mark of 37 established when the team was in Charlotte back in 2002. Lakers assistant coach Jim Cleamons spent the 2004-05 and 2005- 06 seasons as an assistant coach in New Orleans. Hornets forward Trevor Ariza played 106 regular season games with Los Angeles from 2007-09, averaging 8.3 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.54 steals during his Lakers career while helping the team to the 2009 NBA Championship. Additionally, Hornets center DJ Mbenga played three seasons with the Lakers from 2007-10, averaged 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds and was a member of two championship Lakers teams (2009, 2010).

WIRE-TO-WIRE
With their 112-104 victory over the Clippers on March 25, the Lakers recorded their league-leading TENTH wire-to-wire win of the season. Getting to seven wire-to-wire victories in just 39 games matched the Lakers regular season total from all of last season, while their eighth in 46 games surpassed that total. This season, the Lakers (10) lead the NBA in wire-to-wire victories, followed by the Celtics (9), Nuggets (9), Spurs (9) and Heat (8) through games played 3/26/11. The Lakers other wire-to-wire victories this season came against the Warriors (10/31 vs. GS, 11/21 vs. GS), Grizzlies (11/2 vs. MEM), Wizards (12/7 vs. WAS), Pacers (12/15 @ IND), 76ers (12/31 vs. PHI), Cavaliers (1/11 vs. CLE), Jazz (1/25 vs. Utah) and Hawks (2/22 vs. ATL). Last year, the Lakers claimed NINE wire-to-wire victories (games in which they never trailed); seven during the regular season and two during the 2010 Playoffs (4/18 & 4/27 vs. Oklahoma City). During their previous championship run in 2008-09, the Lakers claimed 11 wire-to-wire victories; nine during the regular season and two during the 2009 Playoffs (4/29 vs. Utah & 5/17 vs. Houston). Last season, the Lakers also lost twice in wire-to-wire fashion (98-107 1/8/10 @ POR and 75-91 3/26/10 @ OKC).

LAKERS DEFEAT SUNS IN RARE TRIPLE-OVERTIME CONTEST
The Lakers triple-overtime victory over the Suns on March 22nd was just the fifth time they have played a game with three or more overtimes in the Los Angeles era (4th triple OT game). The Lakers lone quadruple-overtime game was a loss at Cleveland on January 29, 1980. Prior to their game against the Suns, the Lakers had not played a triple-overtime contest since losing 124-133 at Charlotte on December 29, 2006. Additionally, it was only the Lakers second home triple-overtime game in Los Angeles, the other coming in a 117-122 loss vs. San Francisco on February 2, 1969 at The Forum in Inglewood, CA. With the win, the Lakers improved to 2-2 in triple-overtime games (2- 3 in 3OT+ games). The Lakers only other victory in a triple-overtime game came in a December 8, 1961 victory at Philadelphia (151-147).

ODOM WORKING OVERTIME
In the Lakers 139-137 triple-overtime victory over Phoenix, Lamar Odom totaled a season-high 29 points, 16 rebounds and five assists in a career-high 55 minutes. Odom's 55 minutes are the most played by a Laker in one game since Nick Van Exel logged 56 minutes in a 109-104 double-overtime victory 3/3/95 vs. Sacramento. The record for most minutes played by a Laker in a single game is held by Norm Nixon, who logged 64 minutes 1/29/80 at Cleveland in a quadruple-overtime loss. Dale Ellis (Seattle) holds the NBA record with 69 minutes played in a 5-overtime game 11/9/89 at Milwaukee.

40-POINT GAMES
With 42 points March 22nd vs. Phoenix, Kobe Bryant scored 40+ points for the 107th time (regular season) in his NBA career and the third time this season. Bryant's other 40+ point games this season came in a 92-95 loss 11/28 vs. Indiana (41 points) and a 96-109 loss 1/30 vs. Boston (41 points). Last season, Bryant eclipsed the 40-point mark eight times, with the Lakers going 7-1 in those games. In the history of the NBA, only two players have more career 40-point games: Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173). The Lakers are now 73-34 all-time in games that Bryant scores 40+ points. Bryant holds the Lakers franchise record for 40-point games in a single season, recording 27 during the 2005-06 campaign. Bryant also holds the franchise record for most consecutive 40-point games (9), established during the 2002-03 season. Only Wilt Chamberlain (14 twice, 10 once) has had longer consecutive 40-point game streaks in league history than Bryant.

LAKERS CLINCH PACIFIC DIVISION
With a victory over Portland March 20th, the Lakers clinched not only a playoff berth, but also their 22nd Pacific Division title (41st season in Division) as well as no worse than a #4 seed in the Western Conference for the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Teams 1 to 4 in each conference are the three division winners and the team with the next best regular-season record, with the seeding of these four teams determined by regular-season record. The playoff-seedings of teams 5 to 8 are based upon regular-season record. With the win, the Lakers became the 1st team in the West to clinch their division. The playoff berth also marks the Lakers 58th postseason appearance in 63 NBA seasons as well as their 30th playoff berth in 32 seasons since Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team prior to the 1979-80 season. Last season, the Lakers clinched a playoff berth on March 19th with a victory over Minnesota and a Rockets loss to Boston but didn't clinch the Division until April 3rd.

50 WIN SEASONS
With their victory over Portland March 20, the Lakers reached the 50-win mark for the fourth consecutive season and 32nd time in franchise history (31st time since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season and the 29th time since the NBA adopted an 82-game schedule prior to the 1967-68 campaign). Since Dr. Jerry Buss took over the team prior to the 1979-80 season, the Lakers have posted 23 50+ win seasons. It is Phil Jackson's 17th 50-win season in 20 seasons as an NBA head coach.

JACKSON REACHES 600 WINS WITH LAKERS
With the Lakers win at Dallas on March 12th, Phil Jackson earned his 600th career regular season victory in Los Angeles. Jackson is now the fifth coach in NBA history to win at least 600 games with one franchise, joining Jerry Sloan (1,127 with Utah), Red Auerbach (795 with Boston), Gregg Popovich (793 with San Antonio) and Red Holzman (613 with New York). Including Jackson, only 22 coaches in NBA history have won 600 career regular season games, let alone with one franchise. Jackson, who established the Lakers franchise record for regular season coaching wins in February of 2010 (534th victory 2/3/10 vs. Charlotte), is the only coach in league history to win better than 70 percent of his games (1,150-480, .706). He currently ranks 5th all-time in regular season victories, 11th in regular season games coached, 1st in playoff games coached (323), 1st in playoff games won (225) and 1st in playoff win percentage (.697). The fastest coach to 1,100 victories, Jackson earned induction in his first year of consideration for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was enshrined on September 7, 2007.






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