Hornets.com postgame: Lakers 103, Hornets 88

Wednesday, December 29, 2010
By: Jim Eichenhofer, Hornets.com

Lakers (22-10), Hornets (18-14)

It was over when… Lamar Odom drained a three-pointer to cap the scoring in the third quarter, giving Los Angeles an 83-60 lead with 1 second remaining. In a fitting development for this one, Chris Paul took the ensuing inbounds pass and fired a dead-on 60-footer that bounced around the rim before falling out. The Lakers ended the Hornets’ modest four-game home winning streak. New Orleans is 13-4 on its home floor, with all of the defeats coming against quality opponents (Spurs, Knicks, Thunder, Lakers).

Hornets MVP: Paul did whatever he could to try to keep the Hornets within shouting distance, scoring 15 first-half points out of the team’s 41. No other New Orleans player had more than six points in the opening half. Paul finished with 20 points and seven assists in 34 minutes.

Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: On a second unit that has seen a drop-off collectively since the team’s outstanding start to the regular season, Quincy Pondexter has been a true recent bright spot. The rookie from Washington is getting more consistent minutes and has responded by limiting his mistakes, something past Hornets first-round picks such as Hilton Armstrong and Julian Wright were unable to do, hurting their development. Pondexter has been praised for his work ethic by Monty Williams and has appeared to handle his sporadic early playing time with a maturity that belies his 22 years of age. The small forward tallied seven points and three rebounds vs. the Lakers.

The buzz on… the Hornets’ rebounding woes against the bigger Lakers. Wednesday’s defeat against the Lakers was perhaps the poorest performance of the season by New Orleans on the backboards. Through three quarters, Los Angeles held a 32-14 advantage in rebounds. The final margin was 44-24.

"This is a small team," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of the Hornets. "We thought we could overwhelm them with our size."

"(Los Angeles' size) bothered us a lot," Paul said. "They got dunk after dunk. They got everything they wanted. We never really imposed our will, and we paid for it."

It was actually an uncharacteristic showing by New Orleans, which entered Wednesday’s games ranked eighth in the NBA in rebounding differential at plus 2.2. The Lakers were in seventh place at plus 2.4. Overall, the Hornets have been one of the most improved teams in the league in the category, after finishing just 26th last season (minus 1.8 differential).

Blog question of the night: Entering the final game of the 2010 calendar year, the Hornets are 18-14, a record that could be considered surprising in two completely different ways. New Orleans wasn’t projected to be a playoff team by many, so four games over .500 could qualify as a positive. On the other hand, the Hornets were 11-1 in mid-November, so they’ve gone just 7-13 since. How content are you with 18-14?