If you've watched many Lakers games you know about the taco chant. If the Lakers hold their opponent under 100 points and win, all fans get two free tacos from Jack in the Box. Two tacos cost under a dollar yet fans go nuts and chant "We want tacos!" But tonight against the Hornets the suspense of whether there would be free tacos or not was the only thing that kept this game interesting.
Heading into the fourth quarter the Lakers held a 21-point lead, 90-69. Tacos seemed all but in the Jack in the Box bag. But then the Lakers secondary unit came in and played like they have all season - pretty awful. They gave up easy buckets and there was no defensive intensity whatsoever. Now you might say that they have little motivation in a blowout like this but I have two responses to that. One, late in the third quarter with the Lakers up over 20 points, the starters were pressing and causing havoc for the Hornets despite that huge lead. Second, the bench players should have motivation because this is the time they can show they deserve more minutes.
Sasha Vujacic told the Los Angeles Times, "I play a couple of games in garbage time. That's not where I see myself. I don't really like to play in garbage time." Well, if you don't like playing in garbage time stop playing like garbage. Sasha is shooting just 32.5% from the field this year. I'd imagine that's the reason he only played four minutes last night while Adam Morrison played 11. At this rate Sasha won't even be getting garbage time.
Now back to the tacos. So the bench was blowing it for the fans but it still looked like they'd be getting tacos. The Hornets had 92 points with under two minutes left. The Lakers were basically dribbling out the clock but the Hornets had other plans in mind. The Hornets knew what they were doing - especially Darren Collison. Collison attended UCLA so of course he knows about free tacos.
With 16 seconds left and the Hornets at 97 points they intentionally fouled Josh Powell in order to get another possession. On their next possession they looked for a three and hoisted up a contested shot. There is no mistaking this was an attempt to spoil taco time. This looked like a desperation situation where they HAD to get a three as opposed to a team losing by nine points with just seconds remaining. They missed the three but a quick rebound and putback lifted them to 99. Darren Collison fouled Shannon Brown with 4.6 seconds left to get one more shot. Collison drove the length of the floor but his shot was blocked by Shannon Brown and the fans went nuts.
It was another easy win for the Lakers who extend their streak to seven in a row and are 6-0 since Gasol's return. They still haven't been tested and it's tough to make any judgements on the Hornets who were missing Chris Paul and Peja Stojakovic. The Lakers play the Heat Friday who are coming off of a win against the Blazers.