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Preview: Lakers at Hornets

December 05, 2012|By Eric Pincus
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In danger of losing a third straight game, the Lakers (8-10) visit the New Orleans Hornets (5-11) Wednesday night.

After a miserable fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic at Staples Center, with the Lakers yielding 40 points, the team fell apart in the final frame on Tuesday in Houston against the Rockets.

The Hornets have a poor record but have won two of their last four including solid victories over the Clippers on the road and at home against the Milwaukee Bucks. Rookies Anthony Davis (ankle) and Eric Gordon (knee) are not expected to play.

For the Lakers, Pau Gasol is likely to sit out as well, resting his knees (tendinitis).

Key matchup

Dwight Howard's free throws/Lakers half-court defense vs. the fourth quarter. For elaboration, check out the last two games ...

X-factor

New Orleans has a young point guard who is having a strong under-the-radar season. Greivis Vasquez is averaging 13 points and 8.7 assists a night. He organizes the Hornets' offense and has done an admirable job keeping the team in games.

Where the Hornets have struggled is in closing out late, but that's also where the Lakers have fallen apart as well.

With Gasol out and Antawn Jamison starting, Jordan Hill will get minutes behind Howard. He brings energy and defense, and on a night when the Lakers are playing back-to-back, they'll need both.

Outlook

The Lakers should win, even if the Hornets hack Howard in the fourth like the last two opponents. New Orleans is dangerous, just ask the Clippers.

The Lakers are vulnerable but they'll start to climb out of their slide on Wednesday.

ALSO:

Steve Blake needs abdominal surgery, will miss 6 to 8 weeks

Dwight Howard's free-throw shooting is hard for Lakers to ignore

Which teammate is Dwight Howard calling out for lack of energy?

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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