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Lakers stand pat as trade deadline passes

Hornets come to Staples Center on Friday, with Tyson Chandler still on the team.

February 20, 2009|Mike Bresnahan

The Lakers made no moves on trade deadline day, watching from afar as, well, nothing really major happened across the league.

Then the Lakers shrugged at the few minor deals that took place and turned back toward the rest of the regular season, which continues for them tonight against New Orleans after a 2-0 start coming out of the All-Star break.

The Hornets were supposed to be up there with the Lakers and San Antonio in the Western Conference standings this season, but they came into All-Star weekend tied for sixth in the 15-team conference.

Then their center, Tyson Chandler, failed a physical after being traded to Oklahoma City, putting the Hornets in the awkward position of taking him back Wednesday after the Oklahoma City team doctor said Chandler's surgically repaired big toe was not fit for long-term play.

The Lakers think Chandler, who went to Compton Dominguez High, will play tonight, unfortunately for them.

"I was kind of happy that Chandler was traded," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said on a day the team did not practice. "He comes to L.A. all the time and just has a great game and kicks our butt. He comes home and has fun on our court, so that's no good for us."

While the Lakers (44-10) have had their share of fun this season on the way to the league's best record, the Hornets (32-20) aren't quite the spry bunch they were a year ago when they finished only one game behind the Lakers in the regular-season standings with a 56-26 record.

Injuries have touched virtually all of their starters, and designated sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic is having one of his worst seasons, making 39.5% of his three-point attempts and averaging 14.2 points a game, his worst numbers since 1999-2000, his second NBA season.

"They've struggled a little bit for whatever reason," Jackson said. "They haven't been quite as potent as they were last year, but they're still a really good team and when they focus in can be very, very tough."

Adaptive Ariza

After making only five of 18 three-point attempts last season, Trevor Ariza has already made 39 of 116 (33.6%) this season, including two in the final minutes as the Lakers pulled away from Golden State with a late surge Wednesday in Oakland.

By his own admission, Ariza wouldn't have had the confidence last season to put up a couple of long-distance shots with the game on the line.

"I'm not even going to lie to you -- probably not," he said. "I've matured. My teammates and coaches have definitely given me a bunch of confidence."

Ariza, also one of the team's top defenders, will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and is one of the Lakers' top off-season priorities. He makes $3.1 million this season and might be able to at least double his salary with his new contract.



Lakers tonight


Time: 7:30.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 570; 1330.

Where: Staples Center.

Records: Lakers 44-10; Hornets 32-20.

Record vs. Hornets: 2-1.

Update: The Lakers have a weird thing going with the Hornets this season, winning twice in New Orleans but losing by 11 at Staples Center last month. In that Hornets' 116-105 victory, Chris Paul had 32 points and 15 assists, and David West got the best of Pau Gasol with a 40-point night.

--Mike Bresnahan

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