Sunday , Mar , 26 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers, Hornets clash at Staples Center

(Sports Network) – Two teams battling for a spot in the Western Conference
playoffs meet tonight, as the streaking Los Angeles Lakers welcome the New
Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets to the Staples Center.

The Lakers are No. 7 in the Western Conference playoff race, while the Hornets
are two games behind Sacramento for the eighth and final playoff spot.

Los Angeles has won three in a row and plays the third of a four-game
homestand. On Friday, Kobe Bryant scored 43 points as the Lakers defeated the
Milwaukee Bucks, 101-96, at the Staples Center.

Lamar Odom had 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists and Kwame Brown added
16 points and nine rebounds in the win over Milwaukee for the Lakers. Smush
Parker ended with 12 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in the victory.

The Lakers are 20-13 as the host this season. They will play Tim Duncan and
the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday at the Staples Center.

New Orleans/Oklahoma City plays the second of a four-game road trip. On
Friday, Ben Gordon scored 25 points off the bench as the Chicago Bulls
overcame an early deficit to defeat the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets,
96-82, at the United Center.

Seven different Hornets scored in double figures in the loss to Chicago.
Rookie Chris Paul led the way with 13 points, while David West, P.J. Brown and
Linton Johnson all netted 11 for the Hornets, who have lost 10 of their last
11 games overall.

The Hornets, who will visit Utah on Monday and Golden State on Wednesday, are
12-20 at the visitor this season.

This is the third meeting of the season between the clubs. In the two previous
contests, both clubs picked up a win with the Hornets acting as the host.

The Hornets have lost three straight and seven of their last eight at the
Lakers.

The Lakers are scheduled to host the Hornets on April 19th in the fourth and
final meeting of the campaign between the squads.

LAL NOH