The Hornets couldn’t have been a better matchup for the Lakers and this advantage will have them well-rested for a second-round date with Portland or Dallas. The Hornets suffered a major blow with the injury to David West and, quite frankly, it took away any hopes of having a magical run after a great start to the season.

The Hornets couldn’t break 100 against the Lakers in four tries during the regular season and I am hard pressed to see them hold the Lakers below 100 to get a victory.

Chris Paul averaged 15 points and 10 assists in the season series. They will need him him to get 25 and 15 to have a chance.

Carl Landry, who replaced West, is not chopped liver, but I don't believe he can score consistently over that Lakers' length.

The Lakers are finally where they wanted to be – done with the season and gearing up for the playoffs. I would not be surprised to see 20-point blowouts in the first two games. Kobe Bryant normally takes out his frustration on opposing teams and he can’t be happy to be $100,000 lighter for his verbal rant at referee Bennie Adams.

Andrew Bynum probably will not play much in this series and I would not be surprised if they held him out totally so he gets healthy for the second round.

KEYS

Lakers will win if...

- Kobe comes out determined to end this series quickly.

- Pau Gasol gets many touches against the undersized Carl Landry.

- Control Chris Paul and keep him away from huge scoring and assist games.

Hornets will win if...

- Carl Landry outplays Gasol and Bynum is ineffective because of injury.

- The Hornets' bench outscores the Lakers' reserves by 25 to 30 points per game.

- Emeka Okafor turns into Bill Russell.

PREDICTION

- This series will get ugly quickly. Los Angeles Lakers 4, New Orleans 0.

REST OF SERIES: CHI - IND / MIA - PHIBOS - NYK / ORL - ATL / SAS - MEMDAL - POR / OKC - DEN

SCHEDULE: April 17, April 20, April 22, April 24, April 26, April 28 and April 30 / Lakers won the regular season series 4-0.

2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

7. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS

15

Ron Artest

F

Data

C

David Andersen

11

9

Matt Barnes

F

F

Trevor Ariza

1

5

Steve Blake

G

101.5

Points scored

94.9

G

Marcus Banks

15

12

Shannon Brown

G

95.4

Points allowed

94.0

G

Marco Belinelli

8

24

Kobe Bryant

G

46.3

Field Goal %

45.8

C

Aaron Gray

34

17

Andrew Bynum

C

35.2

3 pt. FG %

36.0

G

Willie Green

33

45

Derrick Caracter

F

77.9

Free Throw %

76.5

C

Didier Ilunga-Mbenga

28

3

Devin Ebanks

F

44.0

Rebounds

40.1

G

Jarrett Jack

2

2

Derek Fisher

G

22.0

Assists

20.6

F

Carl Landry

24

16

Pau Gasol

F-C

5.2

Blocks

4.4

C

Emeka Okafor

50

7

Lamar Odom

F

7.3

Steals

7.6

G

Chris Paul

3

1

Joe Smith

F-C

13.1

Turnovers

13.0

F

Quincy Pondexter

20

4

Luke Walton

F

959

Accumulated playoff games

157

C-F

Jason Smith

14

TEAM LEADERS

Kobe Bryant

25.3

Points

18.9

Chris Paul

Pau Gasol

10.2

Rebounds

9.5

Emeka Okafor

Kobe Bryant

4.7

Assists

9.8

Chris Paul

Andrew Bynum

1.9

Blocks

1.8

Emeka Okafor

Ron Artest

1.5

Steals

2.2

Chris Paul