Some things to take away from the Lakers' 93-91 win Monday over the New Orleans Hornets.
1. Metta World Peace's poor inbounds pass was mind-boggling. This epitomized everything about how ugly the Lakers' win looked. They appeared to have the victory locked up, as they led 93-91 with 1.2 seconds remaining. But World Peace threw an inbounds pass all the way to the backcourt toward Matt Barnes that almost got swiped by Jason Smith. The Lakers are fortunate Smith didn't steal it because they easily could've called timeout and set up a play for a tying or winning shot. At least Barnes and World Peace didn't appear too upset with each other afterward.
2. The Lakers secured the win thanks to some huge plays. Plenty of things went wrong for the Lakers. They showed little improvement on defense, allowing Carl Landry to look like a Hall of Famer (20 points on eight-of-12 shooting) and hardly closing out on the perimeter (nine of 15). They shouldn't have been in a close game against the Western Conference's worst team, which didn't have Eric Gordon or Emeka Okafor. But the Lakers' 11-2 run late in the fourth quarter featured some timely plays that mostly belonged to Steve Blake. His corner three-pointer closed the gap to 84-80 with 5 minutes 3 seconds remaining. He drew an offensive charge by Landry. He hit a running bank shot to tie the score 86-86 with 2:10 left.
That's not all.
Gasol blocked Chris Kaman's jumper. World Peace's deep three-pointer gave the Lakers an 89-86 lead at the 1:31 mark, prompting him to blow kisses. He then blocked Smith's layup. Sessions put the game away for good with a deep-three-pointer after Gasol's screen opened Sessions to receive World Peace's inbounds pass.
3. Andrew Bynum is struggling the most without Kobe Bryant. For the second consecutive game, Bynum learned the hard way how much the Black Mamba's presence helps his post game. Bynum posted 18 points on only eight-of-17 shooting because he showed impatience with double teams. He either didn't attack the post right away or he waited too long to post out of them. Bynum appeared so frustrated that he committed an unnecessary foul on Grevis Vasquez in the second quarter above the three-point line after not getting a call on the previous possession.
4. Pau Gasol remained steady with his mid-range jumper. When all else failed, the Lakers relied heavily on Gasol, who posted 25 points on 10-of-21 shooting and nine rebounds. With New Orleans packing the paint to counter Bynum, Gasol was left free to nail mid-range jumpers. For the second consecutive game, those shots, his fall-aways and hook shots fell through. The Lakers will need to rely on Gasol more often until Bynum gets out of his funk.
5. The Lakers provided a good supporting cast. Ramon Sessions (17 points, six boards, six assists) attacked the open floor and hit some late-game shots. Blake, who largely struggled on perimeter defense, made up for his shortcomings with hustle plays, drawing charges and suddenly finding his shot en route to an eight-point effort. Barnes found his shot again (nine points on a three-of-five clip), while maintaining his usual hustle on the glass (eight boards). Devin Ebanks (six points) filled in at Bryant's spot for the second consecutive game nicely, diving for a loose ball and cutting efficiently in the lane.