The Los Angeles Lakers, losers of three straight games, each by at least 15 points, look to get back in the win column Wednesday night at New Orleans Arena, where they'll meet star point guard Chris Paul and the Hornets (8 PM Eastern).
The Lakers dropped their most recent game at the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, with Kobe Bryant shooting 8-27 and taking heat for taking on some much of the two-time champs' offensive responsibility. Lakers center Pau Gasol took only nine shots on the night, leaving observers wondering if Bryant is shooting L.A. out of their gameplan and out of games.
Kobe himself took responsbility for the Lakers' loss. But not for taking so many shots and abandoning the team-based attack that helped win the last two NBA titles. Bryant is mad at himself for missing.
"I just got to put the ball in the damn hole when I need to," he said. "It's my responsibility. It's my job. I got to do it."
Gasol and coach Phil Jackson may disagree that the accuracy of the shots and not the quality of the shots is the problem. If any player can hit 15-foot fadeaways with some regularity, it's Kobe. But the Lakers have better options, and Kobe's looks would improve if Bryant used those other weapons once in a while.
The Hornets certainly aren't humming along themselves. New Orleans is 6-8 in December, having lost on the road Monday to the Timberwolves. The Hornets' offense has been underwhelming despite a whirlwind season for CP3. New Orleans is No. 21 in the NBA in offensive efficiency, largely because it has little scoring help behind Paul and David West. The third-leading shot-taker for the Hornets, former Laker Trevor Ariza, is shooting just 37 percent from the floor. Marco Belinelli and Willie Green, the next most frequent shooters on the club, shoot 42 and 44 percent respectively.
As San Antonio did, the Hornets will try to force the Lakers to beat them outside of the paint. Whether the strategy is successful depends largely on whether Kobe tries to do it all himself again.