This was a weird one. Earlier in the game – the second quarter, to be precise – the Los Angeles Lakers were trailing the New Orleans Hornets by 25 points. Near the end of the 3rd quarter, they had barely cut into the lead, still behind by 21. But then, the 4th quarter. Kobe went off, New Orleans only scored 9 points and the Lakers held a two-point lead in the final moments of the game.
Let’s zero in on this inbounds play, for a moment. Inbounding the ball from the side in the backcourt, Los Angeles stacked all four players at the free throw line. New Orleans, presumably, hoped to nab a steal; if not, foul. Pretty standard late-game maneuvering. But then this happened:
Kobe Bryant streaked towards the open end of the floor and towards New Orleans’ basket, Steve Blake threw him a pass, dunk. So where was New Orleans? Why were they standing there? We could chalk this one up to poor defending by Al-Farouq Aminu, but the entire team was on the wrong side of the Lakers’ stack: other Lakers broke free, too.
This, among other things, is probably why New Orleans is lottery bound.