The Los Angeles Lakers suffered another tough loss at the hands of the Houston Rockets Tuesday night but won’t have long to worry about it as they are set to face the New Orleans Hornets.
The Hornets snapped a three-game losing streak on Monday by thrashing the Milwaukee Bucks 102-81.
Here are few points to consider before tonight’s game:
Bryant joining exclusive club
Kobe Bryant dropped 39 points in the loss to Houston leaving him just 13 points away from reaching the 30,000 point club.
At 34, Bryant will become the youngest player to make the mark.
Only four players in NBA history have scored 30,000 points, a list which includes three former Lakers (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Wilt Chamberlain) as well as former Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan.
NBA career scoring leaders
1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
2. Karl Malone
3. Michael Jordan
4. Wilt Chamberlain
5. Kobe Bryant
NBA teams are going to continue to send Lakers centre Dwight Howard to the charity stripe as long as he doesn’t penalize them for it.
Against the Rockets, he made just eight of 16 free-throw attempts, leaving Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni with the dilemma of whether or not to leave him on the floor at the end of close games.
Howard seemed stunned when questioned by reporters if he should be playing in crunch time.
“Why should he take me out?” Howard responded to USA Today. “Like I said, the more I continue to practise, my free throws are going to fall. But there’s other things you can do on the court to help your team. It’s not just about the free throws.”
D’Antoni shared Howard’s sentiment as well.
“If you take him out now, then you’ll be taking out a guy that’s going to be your franchise player all the time,” the coach said. “We’ve got other problems to worry about. We shouldn’t be talking about him. He’s doing a (heck) of a job and he’ll work through it and knock them down.”
The loss moved the Lakers to 3-5 under D’Antoni who seems to be tying the team’s fortunes to the return of Steve Nash.
Lakers should just be patient. Dwight Howard will make his free throws once Steve Nash comes back
“I want him to dig in and be determined, not discouraged,” Bryant continued. “We should go to him more on the post because he can dominate from there as he has to the tune of two rings. I’m sure we will adjust and figure out a balance when he comes back healthy.”
Gasol, who is averaging 12.6 points and shooting 42 per cent — both career lows — was replaced in the starting lineup by Antawn Jamison who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in Houston.
A Pelican brief
Reports surfaced on Tuesday that the New Orleans Hornets were going to change their name to the Pelicans but team spokesman Greg Bensen denied that was a sure thing.
“We’re not confirming that is the name,” Bensel told the Times Picayune. “This is a process that’s ongoing and still in discussions. And it will be eventually decided by the NBA.”