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Things to watch in Lakers-Hornets matchup


1. How will Lamar Odom respond with his sore left shoulder?

Both Lakers Coach Phil Jackson and Odom expect he will play tonight against the Hornets at Staples Center, but it remains unclear how exactly Odom's left shoulder is going to affect his play.

He joked he's going to have to go right more, a dig at his own penchant for rarely ever using his weak hand. He refused to lift up his shoulder after insisting to a reporter he could. And Jackson expected that Odom's injury will affect his shooting stroke, meaning his 57% shooting rate might go down.

If that proves to be the case, Odom will have to adjust his game, but his versatile skill-set will help him do that. Perhaps instead of going for coast-to-coast drives, he'll instead set up a teammate. Perhaps instead of posting up and exposing himself to more contact on his shoulder, he'll direct the offense from up top. Or perhaps his shoulder won't be an issue at all. It's something the team and fans will watch unfold.

2. The Lakers have enjoyed their size advantage since Andrew Bynum's return, but that doesn't mean there's not issues.

Yes, the Lakers are 4-1 since Bynum has returned and the Lakers have enjoyed a 42-13 mark when he and Pau Gasol play side by side. The Lakers also enjoyed 46 points in the paint in their last outing against New Orleans -- a 103-88 victory Dec. 29 against the Hornets in an effort that exhibited plenty of ball movement and plenty of production from the Lakers' front line with a lopsided advantage in points in the paint (46-30) and rebounding (44-24).

The Lakers are benefitting from Bynum's tangible improvement in conditioning, jumping, defensive movement and post presence as well as Odom's seamless transition and willingness to play off the bench, his vow that he'll play through his shoulder injury for now and that he'll ensure his new reality show won't inhibit his strong production. But Gasol's play has dropped significantly within the last month, a head-scratcher for someone who has usually been so consistent for the Lakers.

The dropoff in Gasol's production from November to Demember in points a game (20.3 down to 16.3), shooting percentage (54.1% to 49%) and rebounding (12.3 to 9.5) can be partly attributed to the fatigue he accumulated while Bynum rehabbed from his surgically repaired right knee. One may conclude that his stats dropping to 13.6 points and 8.8 rebounds a contest in the five games since Bynum started points correlates more to Bynum's increased production from a reserve to a starter in points (7.3 to 12.5) shooting percentage (51.5% to 64.3%) rebounds (5 to 9) and minutes (17.7 to 27.4) as well as Gasol's decreased playing time (34.2 minutes in the last five games).

It also points to Gasol appearing to feel overwhelmed in many facets of the game. Defenders are playing physical with him and he's shying away from that contact. He's passively going through the motions in setting himself up in the lane. He's continuing to view defense as a chore than a necessity. And even if Jackson and Gasol contend otherwise, he still appears tired. Usually the conversation regarding the Lakers' front line entailed why Bynum couldn't feel as effective playing with Gasol. Now it's the other way around.

3. New Orleans may switch their lineup

Two days after the Hornets blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to the Golden State Warriors, Hornets Coach Monty Williams told The Times-Picayune's John Reid that he is considering a change in the team's rotation. That would entail playing guard Chris Paul and forward David West at the beginning of the second and fourth quarters so that the Lakers can't enjoy spurring off to a significant run. Although Jackson generally sees lineup changes possibly helping the Lakers because it takes opposing teams out of their comfort zone, it might invariably prompt Jackson to change his rotation.

Normally, the Lakers reserves begin the second and fourth quarters as well so the starters can remain fresh to close off the first half and end of the game. This will either require Jackson taking a leap of faith in his bench or requiring heavier minutes from his starters.

4. Can the Lakers still keep the turnovers low?

The Lakers managing to beat New Orleans and show effectiveness on offense despite committing 20 turnovers should be seen as the exception to the rule. The Lakers have averaged 14.9 turnovers at home and 13.2 on the road, though that number has dropped in the last two games against Detroit (six) and Phoenix (10). Just as the Lakers' two-game winning streak should be viewed with a shrug, so should the Lakers' recent trend in cutting down on throwing the ball away. The Lakers committed 20 turnovers in their embarrassing loss Sunday to Memphis, concluding a stretch where the team averaged 17.5 turnovers in four games. It's not exactly a thing the Lakers want to accomplish against a team that ranks fifth in total defense, features the NBA's league leader in steals (Paul averages three a game) and ranks second in defensive rebounding, even if the Lakers have gotten away with it already.

--Mark Medina

E-mail the Lakers blog at

Photo: Hornets point guard Chris Paul talks with Coach Monty Williams during a 103-88 loss to the Lakers last week. Credit: Derick E. Hingle / US Presswire

Comments () | Archives (20)

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I think we should sit Lamar for this game to rest his shoulder and have Pau, Caracter and Luke fill up his minutes and power forward.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!! !!!!!!!!!!!! Why should Orlando accept this trade? Because if they dont it would be Shaq all over again! Howard would walk, Bynum would be shipped away to another team for nothing, and we sign Howard! Orlando ultimately gets nothing! If they dont make this trade.

I would like to see Lamar sit out as well- if he thinks he can give it a go, there's nothing really else to say.

He doesn't have to even go in the low post, he can hang around the high post, a lot of P 'n' R w/Artest, Gasol, Bryant. Or stay on the baseline and create, we know how much success LO has doing that.

" !!!!!!!!!!!! Why should Orlando accept this trade? Because if they dont it would be Shaq all over again! Howard would walk, Bynum would be shipped away to another team for nothing, and we sign Howard! Orlando ultimately gets nothing! If they dont make this trade.

Posted by: "I Bleed Purple and Gold" | January 07, 2011 at 04:42 PM "

This trade doesn't make any sense for Orlando.

Orlando will not freely trade Howard away, not a chance in hell of that happening. They'll definitely not trade him to the Lakers . Bay to LA and a lot of others, including myself, see this for what it is: nonsense. We're not getting Howard for Bynum, straight up, that's ridiculous to surmise. We're well over the salary cap for the next 3-5 years and have no bargaining chips until than. And then and only then will we able to splash the FA market again, and by that time, someone will have already given Howard a max contract.

Anybody, who, envisions, Howard coming to the Lakers, whatever you're high on, I want two please.

From all indications, the team doesn't sit think it's serious. It's one of those wait and see type things. If LO is severely putting himself out there, it hasn't happened yet. But we'll have to see how this translates on the court

Yeah, I agree with you guys: sit Lamar for this game.

He's been our best player so far in the season and an injury at this point can take him out for many games. Let's rest him and have him back when it matters.

Besides, players like Caracter, Ebanks and Luke will not get their game sitting on the bench. They need to PLAY! Smith has more experience, don't need that many PT, but I'm still curious on how he can contribute to the team.

Let's see.


The dropoff in Gasol's production from November to Demember in points a game (20.3 down to 16.3), shooting percentage (54.1% to 49%) and rebounding (12.3 to 5.5) can be partly attributed to the fatigue he accumulated while Bynum rehabbed from his surgically repaired right knee.
MM - I know Pau was lacking in December, but I'm sure he avg more than 5.5 reb. Nevertheless...he needs to step up his game and I believe he will.

Whatever. Everyone's going to opine about this. There is no right or wrong, especially when Mitch and Phil not only acquiesced to the surgery date, but encouraged Bynum to go to the World Cup. He not only played through the same injury that sidelined Time Duncan in 2000, but we won a championship! The 10 days were because of Dr. Altchek and the extent of the damage wasn't anticipated, especially after the MRIs he got during the playoffs. To me it's a whole lot of nothing if he's relatively healthy and ready to rock come April.
Posted by: KobeMVP888 | January 07, 2011 at 02:59 PM

@MVP – Bynum deserves praise for playing on the injured knee and helping his team win #16. That is exactly why his employers told him he could have surgery after his vacation. It was their way of showing appreciation.

I remember Duncan sitting out the playoffs when the SA doctors cleared him to play. I remember Grant Hill almost ending his career when he played on his injured ankle in the playoffs. (I chronicled both of those situations in detailed post over the the wonderful Again this is part of why I give praise to Drew. At 23 yrs old he could've sat like Duncan did at that age....and I wouldn't blamed him one bit.

Whether or not Bynum gets injured again…only God knows, but I do know he’s come back this season playing with more focus on the defense than I’ve seen in the past.

You know how competitive and combative I am on the court," he said, according to the Post. "There's nothing I like better than to practice. In fact, I like practice more than the games, because I get to go at my teammates hard. That's when you find out what they're made of, how much you can push some to get the most out of 'em, and how you have to back off others so you don't lose 'em."
"What can I do that I'm not already doing?" he said, according to the newspaper. "I've increased treatment before and after I play, but there's no way of knowing what's going on under there unless I take an MRI once a month.

Posted by: frmkt | January 07, 2011 at 04:20 PM

Frmkt – Well said. Kobe dedication and work ethic has been well documented and confirmed by teammates, rival players, coaches, media, etc. So if anyone is using him not practicing as a reason for their poor play then that’s just an excuse.

I remember an article over the summer talking about how hard Luke worked out. In that article Luke mentioned how he got to the Laker facility early one day to work out....and Kobe had already completed his workout and was leaving when Luke was just starting.

@LakerTom and other 49er fans – congrats on signing “Capt Comeback”. When rumbling of U-M bringing in Harbaugh started last year, I thought it was no way he’d say no to his alma mater. I’m glad I was wrong :-)

@mclyne – You went straight for your masters degree with the King. Great performance. He’s still performing today at the young age of 84.

@frmkt – me in the rhythm. Let's do this...3 in a row.

@LROB… Thanks. 49ers faithful are breathing a huge sigh of relief. In fact, when it looked like the Dolphins were going to steal him away, I vowed to change my NFL loyalty for only the second time in my long life, having abandoned the then St. Louis Cardinals and their inept Bidwell Brother owners for Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers. Don’t really like any other team but the thought of blowing the chance to sign Harbaugh would have been the last straw. I still remember that inaugural 2-14 season by the Walsh led 49ers but after that – Wow. Jed York got it right this time in hiring an offensive and quarterback guru for the franchise renown for its great offenses and quarterbacks.

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Father in Heaven, thank you for blessing us with the greatest sports franchise in the history of mankind. Thank you for this venue to which we can come and not only share our appreciation and amazment for out team, but also a place in which we can voice our frustrations. Please put your healing hands on Lamar's aching shoulder and let him know that it's okay to sit out a game or two until he heals. Let this battle of modern day gladiators tonight be filled with wonderment, passion, and competition at the highest level. In Jesus' name we pray, AMEN!


Posted by: mclyne | January 07, 2011 at 09:53 AM

Spurs eked out a victory in Indiana tonight. Won by 3. Indiana had a 15 pt. lead in the 3rd, but couldn't sustain it. That's the 7th game the Spurs have won by 4 or less points. Those things have a way of turning around.

Utah losing to Memphis by 11 in Memphis at the start of the 4th. I see Memphis as a team on the rise. They lead the league in forced turnovers and steals per game. What they did to the Lakers is no aberration. The Lake Show did not take them seriously and paid the price. It's easy to discount Memphis because of their current record, but they are trending upward.

Nice job LEWSTRS!!!! Thanks for the effort!!

Purple and Gold with Pinstripes! I love it!!

Gotta work tonight. Please represent on the Live Chat and bring home a victory.

Thanks for the Bus Lew and the prayer Mc! Way to step up Fam until Mamba and Utz return.

Kobe practiced and now the knee is swelling. Oh well!

Kobe practiced and now the knee is swelling. Oh well!

Posted by: Fan of the Mamba | January 07, 2011 at 07:05 PM


NO! Is this true???


I watched the last 5 min of that Indy-SA game. The Spurs played great d. The thing that puzzled me most was with 15 sec and Indy down a point, Granger dribbled around the world and then passed it to Hibbert. He should've taken the shot.

Sean Elliott is a real homer ala Heinsohn when he's announcing. Malik Rose was doing today's game instead of Elliott and he was just as annoying.

Ok after a few games losing streak the lakers are back to business



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