The Los Angeles Lakers and the New Orleans Hornets are in the first nationally televised game of the week, but not the best game on the schedule (Warriors vs. Cavaliers is being recorded on the DVR. Love League Pass) on this very chilly Tuesday night in the Northwest.
The Los Angeles Lakers are actually starting to find their groove. Taking Bryant, Dwight Howard, Steve Nash and company just over half a season on to figure out how to play together. They've won back to back games for only the second time this year.
Pau Gasol despite being forced to come off the bench now is actually playing his best basketball of the season. Paul is currently pulling a double-double off the bench in the last two weeks, while his FG% is over 60 and FT% over 80 during the same time.
Stevie Blake should be returning from injury this game and will relieve us of any potential Chris Duhon sightings.
Blake will help keep Nash's minutes low, but its been Kobe who has been the facilitator the past few games. Dishing out 14 assists each over the weekend against Utah and Oklahoma City. Being a passer is something that Kobe said he would never do. As he gets older and his body gets slower he has realized that he has to make adjustments to his game. He has to get others involved. He can't turn into 2007 Kobe and try to score 90'a night. Sure, Smush Parker and Chris "Iron Man" Mihm were on that team... Yeah, he really did have to try and score 90 every night.
Could we see a complete change in Kobe's philosophy down the stretch? How well is going to handle Greivis Vasquez on defense. Vasquez can shoot sometimes, but he's easily the best passer in the NBA not named Ricky Rubio.
Random, baseless prediction: Vasquez hits a triple double. 17-11-10
Mean Prediction: Austin Rivers' points, rebounds, steals, blocks, field goals made and free throws made combined will be fewer than how many assists Kobe has.
X-Factor: Ryan Anderson. If he can shoot 7-13 from three again this game the Hornets will have a punchers chance to win.
X Factor Dos: What can the Hornets get out of Eric Gordon? Going to need at least 17 points from him and really make Kobe work on defense.
Prediction: lakers win, 96-77. Kobe actually flirts with a triple double and some how this game makes LA the west favorite again. Not sure how, but LA media will play that up. Have love three game winning streaks.