Bryant remains one of the best players in the NBA and Fisher has always been a clutch shot-maker in the playoffs. The two of them have been together for all but three seasons in their 15-year NBA careers. They have been on five championship teams together and have seen it all. Both lead in different ways, Fisher more cerebral and Bryant more of a browbeater.
Paul is as competitive and as tough as any player in the NBA. He's not quite as explosive as he used to be after having left knee surgery 14 months ago, but Paul is crafty and still is considered one of the best point guards in the league. Belinelli is a good shooter, but he's not a very good defender.
Gasol is a skilled player who has become one of the top power forwards in the NBA. He has dealt with opponents' calling him "soft" by just playing his game, and at times by being a force for the Lakers. Artest always gets up for big-time small forwards like Carmelo Anthony, Paul Pierce, Kevin Durant and LeBron James. So it'll be interesting to see how engaged he will be playing against Ariza.
Ariza won an NBA championship with the Lakers in 2009 and is a great athlete. Landry was acquired from the Sacramento Kings. He became the starter at power forward when David West went down with a season-ending knee injury.
Bynum has a bone bruise in his right knee. The Lakers just want him to be a force on the backboards and on defense.
Okafor is a solid center; defense and rebounding are his strengths.
The Lakers have a clear advantage here because of Lamar Odom, the leading candidate to be the sixth man of the year. Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake round out a good Lakers bench, though Blake could miss at least Game 1 because of chickenpox.
The Lakers run the triangle offense. But they are at their best when they go inside to 7-footers Gasol and Bynum.
The Hornets run a lot of pick-and-roll plays with Paul, who controls the game for them.
The Lakers were ranked eighth in the NBA in fewest points allowed, the Hornets fifth.
The Lakers were third in rebounds per game, the Hornets tied for 24th.
Well, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has won 11 NBA championships, the most in league history. New Orleans' Monty Williams is a first-year NBA coach.
Lakers in five.