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Preview: Lakers at New Orleans Hornets

March 06, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Hornets guard Eric Gordon goes up for a layup against the Lakers.
Hornets guard Eric Gordon goes up for a layup against the Lakers. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

Fresh off their Tuesday loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Lakers (30-31) visit the New Orleans Hornets (21-40) on Wednesday night.

The Hornets are not a good basketball team -- currently in 14th place in the Western Conference and 25th overall -- but they won't be a pushover. Over their past 14 games at home, they have won eight.

The Lakers leave Oklahoma City with Kobe Bryant dealing with an elbow injury (ulnar nerve contusion), Metta World Peace with a sprained ankle and Dwight Howard with a minor re-aggravation of his shoulder injury (torn labrum).

Against the younger, fresh legs of the Hornets, the banged-up Lakers may face a challenge.

Key matchup

After missing about half of the season, Eric Gordon is the Hornets' leading scorer at 16.8 points a game.

In a losing Jan. 29 effort against the Lakers at Staples Center, Gordon scored 25 points on just 12 shot attempts -- making six of eight from three-point range.

Despite the elbow injury, Bryant was able to score 30 points in 39 1/2 minutes against the Thunder on Tuesday. The Lakers are going to need him offensively and defensively against the Hornets and Gordon.

X-factor

New Orleans' Greivis Vasquez is one of the most underrated point guards in the league, averaging 9.4 assists a game. He's also a steady 13.9 points-per-game scorer, shooting 42.9% from the field and 35.4% from three-point range.

The Lakers will need to keep an eye on outside-shooting forward Ryan Anderson, but Vasquez is the guy creating open shots for the Hornets.

Steve Nash had a poor first half against the Thunder, shooting just one for seven. When he struggles, the Lakers lose their floor spacing. Nash was much better in the second half, shooting six of eight from the field and helping the Lakers make up a sizable deficit.

The Lakers need a strong performance from Nash, especially with the team on tired legs after the defeat in Oklahoma City.

Outlook

Losing in Oklahoma City without Pau Gasol was predictable, but the Lakers simply can't lose to the Hornets -- not if they expect to make the playoffs.

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

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