The 8-10 Los Angeles Lakers are a team in turmoil. The 5-11 Hornets are a team in transition. New Orleans is in the first season of what they hope will be a long marriage between the Big Easy and rookie Anthony Davis.
The Lakers are counting down the final years, months, days and hours of Kobe Bryant’s reign in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Bryant’s pursuit of Jordan’s ring count and the Lakers attempt to match Boston’s 17 championship banners has fallen short.
Outside of a revitalized Kobe Bryant, the Lakers are currently mired in a funk. No other Lakers players' season is spiraling downward than Dwight Howard, who is shooting a career-low .468 from the line. Already this season, Howard has missed 76 more free throws than the second most inaccurate free throw bricklayer, Blake Griffin. As a result, teams have incorporated their own Hack-A-Shaq spinoff that aims to put Howard on the not- so charitable stripe down the stretch, known as Krypto-Dwight, a play on Howard’s Superman nickname.
In the final five minnutes of the Lakers two-point loss Tuesday night, Howard missed five free throws. After Howard took just 22 shots in a pair of losses to his former franchise to the Magic and the Houston Rockets, who openly campaigned for the big man’s services told the media, “We need to share the ball again.”
That criticism may or may not have been a veiled shot at Bryant, who has taken 58 shots in the same span and attempted as many shots in the Rockets loss as the rest of his teammates combined.
Sitting at 29,987 points, Bryant is almost assured to become the fifth player to score 30,000 career points tonight. Bryant is averaging an NBA-high 27.9 points but the Lakers are inexplicably 1-7 when he scores at least 30 points.
Bryant's partner-in-crime Pau Gasol, who has struggled and complained about his transition to a strictly mid-range jumper shooter in D’Antoni’s system will miss his second consecutive game with tendinitis in his knees. Gasol was also benched in the Lakers fourth quarter loss to the Magic. Gasol will be replaced in the starting lineup by small forward Antawn Jamison, who will make the Lakers smaller but quicker in transition, which is a tenant of D’Antoni’s vaunted offensive schemes.
The Hornets will be without rookie forward Anthony Davis for the eighth straight game with an ankle injury. Just as the Lakers are waiting for Steve Nash to hold down their backcourt, the Hornets have spent their entire season waiting for Eric Gordon’s surgically repaired $80 million right knee to heal.
After going 1-4 before canning Mike Brown, the Lakers went 4-1 under interim Bernie Bickerstaff but are only 3-5 since D’Antoni began stalking the sidelines.
Where To Watch Online: Lakers at Hornets922717