Lakers (32-20), Hornets (13-39)
It was over when
Jason Smiths three-point attempt at the buzzer was rejected by Pau Gasol, allowing the Lakers to escape with a comeback victory. Los Angeles closed the game on a 21-8 run, handing the Hornets a heartbreaking defeat in which the visitors came up just shy of posting a stunning upset. The Hornets outplayed their healthier and more decorated opponents for much of the afternoon, but as has been the case often in 2011-12, lost by a possession.
Hornets MVP: There were numerous candidates for this, a testament to how well the Hornets played in a rare Saturday road matinee. Smith (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Jarrett Jack (18 points, 10 assists) each registered a double-double, while Al-Farouq Aminu was an all-around presence with 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Give the slight nod to Smith, who helped keep the Hornets competitive all day even though Carl Landrys absence resulted in yet another ultra-shorthanded frontcourt situation.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Grevis Vasquez contributed 12 points, four rebounds and three assists off the bench to lead the backups in scoring, but lets go with Chris Johnson, who came through with a much-needed quality game. The 6-foot-11 LSU product notched six points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes of action.
The buzz on
another new lineup. For an incredible sixth consecutive game, the Hornets had a different starting lineup, which ups the total to 21 alignments out of the clubs 52 games. Landry, who has been outstanding since returning from his Feb. 4 knee injury, was a late scratch, so even though Jack came back Saturday, the Hornets only had eight players for a second straight contest. All over the Internet and social networks Saturday afternoon, people were talking about the Hornets near-miss against the Lakers, another sign of the job Monty Williams has done this season under the most unenviable circumstances.