NEW ORLEANS -- The revamped and reloaded Los Angeles Lakers
won't go 82-0.
Davis made four 3-pointers and scored 23 points with 12 assists
and four steals, dominating his one-on-one matchup with Bryant to
such a degree that the Lakers were forced to switch other defenders
"His skills have always been there, his athleticism has always
been there," Bryant said. "I tease him sometimes because he looks
a little chunky, but he still gets up off the floor. He's a great
player, a great player."
Davis got plenty of help as the Hornets played a superb
all-around game. P.J. Brown shot 7-for-7 and scored 20 points with
seven rebounds; David Wesley added 17 points and five assists; and
George Lynch scored 15 to pace six players in double figures.
One night after a double-overtime victory over San Antonio that
lasted more than 3½ hours, the Lakers didn't have the legs to keep
up with the Hornets during a 28-10 third-quarter rally that turned
a one-point deficit into a 17-point lead.
The Lakers pulled within 12 before Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal
re-entered the game with 5:50 remaining. But Bryant shot an airball
from 3-point range as the shot clock expired, Brown scored twice
and Darrell Armstrong nailed the Hornets' 12th and final 3-pointer
to make it 108-90 with 3:27 left.
"This isn't your typical back-to-back," Bryant said. "I don't
think we'll be going into double-overtime, back-to-back situations
too much this season."
O'Neal had 21 points for the Lakers, who won their first five
games. Bryant added 11, shooting 4-for-14 while hearing far fewer
boos than he did the previous night in San Antonio.
New Orleans improved to 5-1, matching the best six-game start in
franchise history, despite playing without Jamal Mashburn.
Coach Tim Floyd said he did not want his team to become too
reliant on the 3-point shot after the Hornets hoisted 116 and made
40 over the first five games, but the long shot was what helped the
Hornets break this one open.
Los Angeles opened the third quarter with a 12-5 run to take a
67-66 lead, but Davis answered with a pair of 3s.
Lynch had a putback after a missed 3 by Davis, then hit a 3 of
his own from the left corner. A 20-foot jumper by Sean Rooks and a
short bank shot by Brown made it 92-75, and New Orleans maintained
that 17-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
Davis, hampered by a back injury throughout last season, has
been prolific during the early part of this season while leading
the league in both steals (28) and 3-pointers made (23).
Coach Phil Jackson has decided to use Bryant as the primary
defender on opposing ballhandlers, but the task of guarding Davis
was too difficult.
"Every time I got the ball I was looking to attack," Davis
said. "I watched them play San Antonio last night and I saw some
of the things that (Manu) Ginobili was doing as far as just being
aggressive and getting to the hole. I felt if I could just continue
to get in that lane I'd be able to score myself and find people as
Bryant angered Jackson at the end of the first half by
nonchalantly running the offense with the clock about to expire.
Bryant dribbled the clock down to 2 seconds, then flipped a pass to
Devean George several steps behind the 3-point line. George fired
the ball up and hit a 3-pointer as the horn sounded, completing a
quarter in which the Lakers shot 75 percent (12-for-16) and cut
their deficit to 61-55.
Game Notes: Armstrong had the block of the night, racing downcourt on a
fast break late in the fourth quarter and swatting away Derek
Fisher's layup attempt from behind. ... O'Neal had an airball on
his final free throw attempt with 2 minutes remaining. ... Hornets
co-owner Ray Wooldridge sat with celebrity defense attorney Johnnie
Cochran and New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin. ... The crowd of 18,550
was the second-largest ever for the Hornets at New Orleans Arena,
falling 20 short of the record set during Game 6 of the first round
of the playoffs against Philadelphia last season.
Bruce Bowen likes how LeBron James is playing and says he will figure out when it is time to attack and when to get other players involved.
Bruce Bowen says being comfortable at home enabled Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan to relax and play well at home and even the series against Cleveland.
Stephen A. Smith says if he had a choice to sign either LeBron James or Kevin Durant to a long-term contract this offseason, he would choose Durant.