LOS ANGELES -- We still don't know exactly what went down at that team meeting in Memphis for the Lakers, but maybe it was like that episode of "Seinfeld" in which George Costanza decides to do everything the opposite way.
"It's not not working, Jerry," George says. "It's just not working. Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. "
Sounds like the Los Angeles Lakers, right? At 17-25 heading into that air-it-out session, the promise of a Lakers championship run that once seemed destined when the team came together seemed all but impossible.
As George begins to commiserate with Jerry about how poorly his life has gone, he comes to a sudden realization: If every instinct he has is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.
We're joking here, of course, but how else can one rationally explain Wednesday's game against the New Orleans Hornets, when Steve Nash grabbed four rebounds to Dwight Howard's four; Earl Clark scored 20 points to Kobe Bryant's 14; Bryant dished 11 assists to Nash's five; the Lakers' bench scored 38 points to the Hornets' bench's 32?
The Lakers (20-25) are climbing their way back and their team cohesion certainly is the opposite of what we've seen for most of this season.
How it happened: The Lakers ran out to an 18-point lead in the first half, thanks to hot starts from both Howard (10 points in the first quarter) and Clark (eight in the first). The Hornets cut the lead to four with 2:45 remaining in the third quarter before L.A. used a 9-3 run to end the quarter and head into the fourth back up by double digits. A Ryan Anderson 3-pointer (his second in a row) with 2:40 remaining in the final frame cut the Lakers' lead back to three; this was followed by a Greivis Vasquez floater that cut it to one shortly thereafter. But a Clark layup and Nash 3 stopped the run, and L.A. was able to hold on.
What it means: If the Lakers can get it done on the road, they will have a chance to be back in the playoff race before the All-Star break begins.
Hits: Howard shot 9-for-13 from the field and Clark wasn't far behind at 8-for-11.
Bryant was two rebounds away from a triple-double after totaling nine rebounds in each of his previous two games.
Misses: Metta World Peace shot 1-for-8 (1-for-6 from 3) from the field.
L.A. allowed Anderson to score 11 points in the fourth quarter as the Hornets almost pulled off the comeback.
Stat of the night: Bryant finished with 11 assists on the night, bringing his total for the past three games up to 39 -- the most he has ever had over a three-game stretch in his 17-year career. It was the fifth time in his career he has had 10-plus assists in three straight games, and the first time it has happened since Jan. 14-21, 2009, when he did it in four straight.
What's next: The Lakers head to Phoenix for the second night of a back-to-back on Wednesday, starting a seven-city, 12-day road trip. It should be an emotional return for Nash, who played eight seasons with the Suns and won two league MVPs with the franchise. The Lakers will test their current three-game winning streak against their terrible road record of just 5-15.