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Lakers make improbable comeback, survive the Hornets

Mar 7, 2013, 12:03 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant

The Lakers entered the 4th quarter against the Hornets trailing by 18 points, 93-75.

Up to that point in the game there was little reason to think that anything but a disappointing loss for the Lakers was on tap. Sure, they were on the 2nd night of a back to back and were coming off a tough loss to the Thunder the night before. But to lose to a team 21 games under .500 was not just going to make for an extra long flight home, it was going to put a real dent in their hopes to make the playoffs.

Then a funny thing happened in those final 12 minutes — the Lakers found their game and the Hornets fell apart.

Spurred on by a brilliant offensive performance from Kobe Bryant and a dominant defensive effort from Dwight Howard, the Lakers went on a 20-0 nothing run in the final 6:46 of the game and outscored the Hornets 33 to 9 in that final quarter to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. What was once a 25 point deficit in the 2nd half became a 108-102 Laker victory.

There really aren’t enough adjectives to describe how good Kobe was to close this game. In the 4th quarter he scored 18 of his game high 42 points and dished out 2 of his game high 12 assists. He missed only one shot in the period (and only 7 of his 21 on the night) and completely dominated a Hornet defense that had no answers for his all court attack. He hit jumpers, got to the rim in isolation, and even found ways to shake free in transition.

Meanwhile, Dwight Howard had his best defensive stretch of the season playing with 4, then 5 fouls for most of the quarter. The Hornets continuously tried to run the same isolation and pick and roll heavy attack that got them their big lead throughout the game, but Howard was there to snuff out nearly every action. He cut off driving angles, patrolled the paint, and challenged shots at the rim expertly all while avoiding the type of contact that would have sidelined him. And on the Lakers’ most important defensive possession of the contest, he had the game clinching block on a Robin Lopez dunk attempt that put the exclamation point on his dominant evening.

Of course, the Lakers wouldn’t have needed such heroics down the stretch if it wasn’t for how poorly they played in tandem with a how well a game Hornets team played.

As bad as New Orleans was down the stretch, they were just as good through three quarters. They dominated the Lakers with heady passing and hot shooting, torturing any and all defense the Lakers attempted (and that’s being kind) to play. Led by their backcourt tandem of Eric Gordon (18 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists) and Greivis Vasquez (15 points, 12 assists, 5 rebounds), the Hornets attacked the slow footed defense of the Lakers and got to their spots on the floor to set up makable shots for themselves and their teammates.

But when it came time to close out the game and put their foot on the necks of the Lakers, the Hornets didn’t have enough. Their hot shooting went cold and the plays that were so easily made before disappeared as the Lakers clamped down defensively. The Hornets closed the game by missing their last 12 shots and committing 5 turnovers, essentially giving the game away just as easily as they had taken it from the Lakers up to that point.

At the end of the contest, Kobe raised his arms, almost defiantly, as he walked off the court. His brilliance and that of his teammates turned what should have been a sure loss into a victory. They had no business winning that game, but sometimes the improbable happens.

  1. dannymac17 - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:04 AM

    Good for the Lakers for NOT losing by 25 to the Hornets, yet beating them as they should.

  2. money2long - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    i think it’s safe to say, if dwight’s defense was on par to a 3-time defensive player of the year all season, the lakers record would be much better than it is now. good win, and great that dwight’s defense was on point tonight when they needed it tonight .

  3. snaxdsp - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:27 AM

    That makes no sense Danny

  4. nicosanchez02 - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    Man what an ugly win, but a win! Will take it though Utah lost that sort of helps! But c”mon man the hornets down by 25! C”mon man!

  5. BigBeachBall - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:35 AM

    nash made some sweet inbounds passes… the arc on those passes made all the difference in the game…

  6. badintent - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Laker Nation, Mike Brown is still laughing……………………………………………..

    • money2long - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:57 AM

      did u fall asleep on the period button ?

    • cosanostra71 - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:05 AM

      About what? The Lakers are 3 games over .500 since they fired him.

      • badintent - Mar 7, 2013 at 5:05 PM

        you’re really proud about that ?? My Knick Nation nursing home has 4X that many and counting.Get on the Clippers bandwagon while you stil can at a decent price for a Griffen T-shirt.

      • cosanostra71 - Mar 7, 2013 at 10:32 PM

        “My Knick Nation nursing home has 4X that many and counting.”

        Cool, you want a cookie or something?

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 7, 2013 at 6:26 AM

      we laughing @ you

      • badintent - Mar 7, 2013 at 5:03 PM

        you ain’t cashing his$$$$ checks.just your MickieDs ones

  7. hammycheeseer - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    It’s not improbable when the refs are required to carry the lakers to the playoffs.

    • cosanostra71 - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:06 AM

      right, because putting the worst free throw shooting team in the NBA on the line a lot would really help them.

      • cosanostra71 - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:07 AM

        Let’s take one of the things you’re worst at, and make you do it a lot. Surely that will give you an edge!

      • hammycheeseer - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:30 AM

        yes, because letting the lakers hold, reach in, and set moving screens without calling a foul is just the hornets fans. Hornets def deserved to lose, but lakers didn’t deserve to win, their wins have been a product of refs swallowing their whistle in favor of the lakers.

      • cosanostra71 - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:59 AM

        “Hornets def deserved to lose, but lakers didn’t deserve to win”

        This statement makes a lot of sense.

      • hammycheeseer - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:34 AM

        It makes perfect sense if you get past your primitive thinking. Hornets deserved to lose with their play not to lose strategy. However, this game, like the past 5 or 6 of the lakers wins, since Buss died, have come down to Refs taking over the games to force the lakers to win.

  8. iamjimmyjack - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:07 AM

    One of the best Kobe games I’ve seen in the regular season. He dominated. 14/21 with 42 points and 12 assists. That’s incredible. Dwight Howard with the monster block. Jodie making every 3 and Steve Blake with 7 assists. Great game to watch. Keep it going lakers.

  9. lakerluver - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:08 AM

    The haters will point to the opponent and try to minimize Kobe’s game. However, I say what a legendary performance by the G.O.A.T.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 7, 2013 at 6:29 AM

      Kobe said he will make the playoffs, it will be so much fun watching him do it.
      Kobe has a room filled with awards and trophies, he doesn’t care about haters!
      Kobe haters can poop in their BIG boy pants!

      • loungefly74 - Mar 7, 2013 at 8:28 AM

        you said it, evil! no one in the NBA has the will and determination to win more than Kobe.
        the hater talk makes me laugh about the people who complain about Laker coverage on this site…yet…they flock just as much as the fans do to Laker blogs/posts. Basically, I am saying, “Thank you, Haters…for help making the Lakers ‘must read material'”…

    • bigrele - Mar 7, 2013 at 8:18 AM

      Ha! GOAT? You sure as hell ain’t talking about Kobe scoring 42 to rally his team against an inept 21-31 Hornets team?! Lol, hey! A RARE lakerluver sighting, and as usual hung over from smoking the crackpipe all night, clearly excited cause his sub .500 all season long overhyped Lakers made it BACK to .500 AGAIN lmao! There is only ONE player that is the GOAT & he will forever remain that! Michael Jeffrey Jordan! Wasn’t aware he suited up last night, last I checked he retired years ago; anyway when your beloved Laker can win 6 NBA championships (3 in a row TWICE!), 6 Finals MVPs, 10 scoring titles, 5 league MVPs as THE franchise player (not riding Shaq’s coattails for the 1st 3 titles) then talk to me fool, till then Kobe can’t hold Jordan’s jockstrap! Stay off the crackpipe! I’ll leave you with this: His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, “By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.”

    • bigrele - Mar 7, 2013 at 11:01 AM

      Ha! GOAT? You sure as hell ain’t talking about Kobe scoring 42 to rally his team against an inept 21-31 Hornets team?! Lol, hey! A RARE lakerluver sighting, and as usual hung over from smoking the crackpipe all night, clearly excited cause his sub .500 all season long overhyped Lakers made it BACK to .500 AGAIN lmao! There is only ONE player that is the GOAT & he will forever remain that! Michael Jeffrey Jordan! Wasn’t aware he suited up last night, last I checked he retired years ago; anyway when your beloved Laker can win 6 NBA championships (3 in a row TWICE!), 6 Finals MVPs, 10 scoring titles, 5 league MVPs as THE franchise player (not riding Shaq’s coattails for the 1st 3 titles) then talk to me fool, till then Kobe can’t hold Jordan’s jockstrap! Stay off the crackpipe!

  10. clevelandschronic2 - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    Heres hoping the lakers make the playoffs as a 8 seed so my cavs can swap the heat and lakers pick. Another high mid 1st rd pick will certainly help us continue to add talent around kyrie,TT,waiters and the core we have now. Things are working out nicely.

    • 00maltliquor - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      Kyrie’s taking his talents to South Beach once his rookie contracts over.

  11. lakerluver - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:23 AM

    @clevechron2,
    Do you really believe Kyrie’s gonna stay in a Cadaverliers jersey much longer? That kid is so good his talent begs for the biggest stage. The Mistake by the Lake ain’t that, my friend. HOWEVER, he would look great in PURPLE AND GOLD.

    • badintent - Mar 7, 2013 at 5:08 PM

      yeah the biggest stage is still NY. you still watching Herr Trump ‘show. Busted !!!!

  12. decimusprime - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:46 AM

    The Assassin was in true form tonight. Kobe was killing it. If they keep this up and the lower seeds keep flubbing, Lakers could end up Vs. Clipp and I like our chances with that solid momentum they’re building. Go Lakers!! Keep killing em Kobe!

  13. dko83 - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    Who is the 1 seed in the WC? Spurs probably right? 2 seed is Clips or Thunder? If the Lakers win even 2 games against any of those teams I will eat more crow than any one man should, but it just aint happening. Likely scenario is the Dallas series all over again. I get that there are no picks so the playoffs are all they have to live for, but what do Lakers fans think is going to happen? An upset, honestly?

    As a Laker hater I hope they make it.. not so they lose, but because it will make the playoffs more dramatic and fun. Sports media just LOVES dissecting the Lakers and it will cause a huge uproar, etc. The reality is.. as an uneducated observer, they just don’t have chemistry.

    • davidly - Mar 7, 2013 at 8:42 AM

      Hatin’ aside, dko83 is right: Lakers’re 1-8 so far against the top 4 in the West, 2-11 against the top 5.

      Making the playoffs at this point might mean moral victory, or whatever, but it would also delay Howard’s rehabilitation, potentially even put him in more jeopardy. A back ain’ nuttin’ to play wit’.

      Meanwhile, Bryant is on pace to pass Wilt the Stilt on the all-time scoring list at Golden State on the 25th of March.

      • dko83 - Mar 8, 2013 at 12:10 AM

        Yeah I need to hate less and just enjoy the games.

    • davidly - Mar 8, 2013 at 4:16 AM

      I only used the term because you did, but honestly I think more people are accused of it than actually do it.

      I know what you mean about just enjoying the games. As a Pacers’ fan I’ve had to get used to that; they’ve consistently had a solid team, but playoff promise always limited.

      I think the hate-thing is an offshoot of fandom: If one’s team isn’t faring so well, one starts finding others to root for, if only temporarily, but it gets to the point that rooting against someone is a viable outlet for the related emotional attachment.

      Take a race, for example (I know, they’re boring, but I’m from Indy): Once the driver you’re rooting for is knocked out of it, you root for the next guy (or girl) all the way until the end when you’re praying for racing’s equivalent to Duke U not to win.

      Once, a while back, I was nursing an emotional loss of a team I held dear, and decided to go see a movie (the key being that it was one I knew I’d like). Anyway, I realized, you don’t need the character(s) in a film to “win” per se. It’s all about the enjoyment of it. My attitude changed back then; hell, I don’t even remember who it was who lost.

      I do get caught up in it though. For instance, Indiana losing to the Celtics the other night affected my mood, if only just a tiny bit.

      I can’t decide if I would rather see the Lakers make the playoffs or not. I guess I’m indifferent. But when it gets to the last day of the regular season and, if they win, they’re in–who knows, I might find myself rooting for or against them.

      Now that’s a sickness.

  14. clevelandschronic2 - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:21 AM

    Yeah we all kno everyone wants to wear purple n gold and play with the biggest ball hog in all of sports kobe. And have you read about or ever listened to kyrie speak about the cavs organization or the city probably not but he loves the city and the organization(his words) even after he won mvp of the rising stars game as a rookie he told the tnt camera man on airto make sure he gets the Cleveland logo in the shot. lebron never ever said or did stuff like that while here. So yes i am more inclined to believe kyrie he already seems to have way more loyalty than lebron ever had. Plus we can give him more money and do you really think anyone is dying to play with howard now???

    • loungefly74 - Mar 7, 2013 at 8:36 AM

      a ball hog who wins…

      well…i have Ohio connections. i want the Cavs to rebound. Irving is a solid center piece to help them bring it back.

    • fatcamper - Mar 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM

      As a Magic fan I thought Dwight liked Orlando more than Shaq did, and it hurt to be wrong. Hopefully for your sake Kyrie sticks around and you don’t become the farm system for a big-market team like we’ve been historically. If I were a betting man though…

    • cosanostra71 - Mar 7, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      Irving will likely never end up on the Lakers, but just wanted to point out that by the time Irving hits the free agent market in 5 years or so, Kobe will be long retired.

  15. omniusprime - Mar 7, 2013 at 9:02 AM

    The Lakers pulled off one of the greatest 4th quarter comebacks in Laker history last night, despite the totally pathetic coaching job by Dumbtoni. I was watching Jon Stewart and saw the Lakers were down by 18 at the end of the 3rd quarter. For a laugh I changed back to the NBA channel to see how badly the Lakers had lost by and was surprised to see the game tied at 102. Enjoyed the last two minutes as the Lakers sealed the deal over the lowly Hornets. While it’s been bad to be a Lakers fan this season, at least we’re not Hornet fans.

    Kobe was totally awesome during the comeback, he willed the team to victory despite the total lack of coaching from Dumbtoni that put the Lakers into such a deep hole. Jodie Meeks was awesome, he needs to have more playing time while Steve Flake and Trash Nash get less. As usual Trash Nash didn’t bother to play defense.

    The Lakers are closing in on a playoff spot, looks like they’ll get to a 7 seed and with some luck a 6 seed if the lowly Warriors keep on folding. Looks like Kobe will have his guarantee validated for the playoffs.

    Thanks Dr. Buss, Rest in Peace!!! Go Kobe, Greatest of all Time!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!!

  16. lemfax - Mar 7, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    League pass is sucks… Trying to watch this game but wolves & wizards came out the screen:(((((

  17. lakerluver - Mar 7, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    @cc2
    You and your fellow Cav fans will be heartbroken WHEN Kyrie leaves. I bet you were the same guy who said LeBron wouldn’t leave. Get ready for another swift kick in the family jewels, my friend. I’m not saying he will be playing for the LAKERS but, as a pg, why wouldn’t Kyrie want to play with a dominating center, in a major market, for the league’s greatest franchise. You and your fellow Cavs fans get ready to cue up those “please don’t go, Kyrie” videos. You know, the same ones that worked so well with LeBron.

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 7, 2013 at 9:20 PM

      Kyrie is on his rookie deal still, when he is eligible for an extension the Cavs will give him the max and he will sign it, because a guy who has had knee injuries (and foot) knows he needs the big paydays first. He may someday leave Cleveland but we are talking 5-6 years down the road at the very least.

  18. lakerluver - Mar 7, 2013 at 11:39 AM

    “Riding Shaq’s coattails”? Only an uninformed fan would suggest such a thing. Knowledgeable fans know that Kobe’s stats for the first three titles match up with anybody who has ever won mvp of the Finals. Look them up, my friend. Kobe just happened to play with the most dominant center since Wilt. And actually he should’ve won Finals mvp the second championship with Shaq. I don’t blame you for your ignorance though. You probably also don’t know how truly great James Worthy was either…since he played with the incomparable Magic Johnson. Kobe has a legit claim as the G.O.A.T. simply by his unmatched greatness this late in his career. Name one other backcourt player who was this great in his 17th season. I’ll help you…no one! Add what he’s doing now to what he’s done over his whole career and he has just as much of a claim to the throne as MJ. Oh, and one last thing, you can change your username but I know who you really are, sir. We ALL do!!

  19. dirtydavis - Mar 7, 2013 at 11:59 AM

    F*** it!!! A win is a win

  20. kb2408 - Mar 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    @ lakerluver…..Kobe’s stats for the 2002 Finals were 26ppg, 6rpg, 5apg.
    2001 Finals: 24ppg, 8rpg, 6apg
    Not too shabby, especially considering he was only 22 and 23 years old. He easily could’ve been MVP of the 2002 Finals.

    • bucrightoff - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      No he couldn’t have been MVP of the 2002 Finals. Shaq averaged 36 and 12, so no, Kobe was never going to be MVP ahead of Shaq’s ridiculously good performance.

      • aboogy123456 - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:23 PM

        Buc, the more you write on here, the dumber you sound. What KB was saying was obviously trying to illustrate that yea, kobe was not the MVP of the finals, but he played amazing.

        People like you who don’t watch basketball and just read stats are the type of people who discount kobe’s greatness because Shaq won the finals MVP those years. They played the Nets in the finals who were a very undersized team, so obviously the gameplan was give it to shaq.

        What you fail to understand is that the finals was just one series, and the lakers never had any trouble in the finals those years. The teams that gave them the biggest trouble were the Blazers in 2000 and the Kings in 2002. I think Shaq was their MVP in 2000 but by 2002 Kobe was the team’s best player IMO.

      • bucrightoff - Mar 7, 2013 at 3:51 PM

        I bet I’ve watched more basketball than you’ll forget, which is why I can say the Lakers will get destroyed by either San Antonio (too much ball movement, no one can stop Parker), OKC (ball movement, Durant, Westbrook) or LAC (Paul, athleticism).

        You, as a delusional Laker fan, think that if they make the playoffs will be a massive threat, probably so delusional you think they’ll win the title. I remember Shaq thouroughly dominated that Finals against a sad New Jersey front line (Jason Collins!). I also know that Kobe’s selfishness has cost him at least 2 more rings.

  21. 00maltliquor - Mar 7, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    Kobe the muh-thurr-fah-kin G.O.A.T.!!!!!

  22. lakerluver - Mar 7, 2013 at 2:51 PM

    Look, we all know Shaq was the man on the 3 LAKERS title teams. Heck, Kobe was 21, 22 and 23 years old. Shaq was in his late twenty’s and in the prime of his career. But to act like Kobe was freaking Robert Horry is insulting, biased and just down right dumb. By most “uninformed” fans Kobe will never get his proper due. HOWEVER, those associated with the NBA give him his respect. Google top NBA players of all time regardless of position and he’s on every list you’ll find. On most he’s top 10. And almost unanimously ranked ahead of Shaq.

  23. lakerluver - Mar 7, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    @aboogey
    FINALLY an informed fan!
    Thanks for sharing.

  24. lakerluver - Mar 7, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    The ONLY reason why Shaq was the man on those three teams is because he was several years older than Kobe and in his prime. Shaq was down right scary from 2000 to 2003. But if Kobe had been in his prime and Shaq was the 21 year old kid, Kobe would’ve been the man on those teams. And even though Shaq won all three Finals mvp’s, Kobe was the LAKERS best player from the time he was 22.

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