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The Lakers defeated the Hornets 93-91 this past Monday. A win like this should be no cause for celebration, even with Kobe Bryant sitting on the bench with a boot on his foot and shin. However, there actually was something noteworthy about the win, the Lakers closed out the game with stifling defense. Losing 73-81 with 6:30 left in the game, the Lakers went into lockdown mode and finished the game strong. During a pregame interview, Pau Gasol stated, "We need to stick to our principles in the defensive half court." The Lakers were able to do this in the final six minutes and it led to their win.
After a slow start by both teams, things started to pick up a little bit. Devin Ebanks made some great hustle plays, at one point diving through Marco Belinelli's legs to get a loose ball at half court and call timeout. Pleased, Mike Brown promptly hustled to mid court and gave Ebanks a high five and some nice recognition for his effort. Ebanks ended the quarter going 2-3 for 6 points, with all of his points coming on attacks to the rim. In Kobe's absence, Ebanks has stepped up nicely and Mike Brown seems impressed with the young guy. Speaking of Kobe, while dressed in a suave suit with one fresh Nike kick on one foot and a boot on the other, Kobe acted as an assistant coach throughout the night. He could be seen on the bench giving tips to the guys, talking in the huddle during timeouts, and even standing next to Mike Brown and watching the action during key plays. I'll touch upon this a little more later. The Lakers came out and established Pau in the post as the main feature of the offense. Pau went 3-4 for 6 points, 1 assist, and 3 rebounds. Pau hit a jumper, a putback, and an up and under leaner. He also hit Ebanks on a nice curl for a layup. Pau's presence was felt early and often. The opposite could be said of Bynum. Bynum went 0-3 for 3 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 turnover. However, Bynum was doubled early and often, and he did a pretty good job of kicking out to the open wings. The Lakers finished the quarter up 21-19.