Ball facilitator may not have been a term used to describe Kobe Bryant in the past, but if his last three games are any indication, the future Hall of Famer is willing to take on that role for the team's success.
For the third straight game, Bryant finished with double-digit assists, and for the third game in a row the Lakers have ended up in the win column, including a 111-106 triumph on Tuesday.
Bryant, who had registered 14 assists in each of his last two games, finished with 11 helpers and also scored 14 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Dwight Howard scored 24 points and Earl Clark added 20 points and 12 boards for the Lakers, who have strung together three straight wins for the third time this season.
Antawn Jamison and Steve Nash finished with 16 and 12 points, respectively, in the victory.
"Kobe makes the game so much easier. We have a lot of veterans on this team and we can make adjustments quickly," Jamison said.
Eric Gordon poured in 25 points and Greivis Vasquez scored 15 points and dished out 15 assists for the Hornets, who have dropped three of their last four games overall.
The Lakers led, 98-80, with just under six minutes to go, but New Orleans used a 21-4 run to make it 102-101 at the two-minute mark.
Clark's layup put Los Angeles up by three, and following a Vasquez miss, Nash delivered a 26-foot triple to put the Lakers up 107-101 with 1:21 showing.
The teams exchanged misses before Gordon canned a deep 3-ball with 32.8 seconds remaining, but it would be as close as the Hornets would get.
Jamison's layup, followed by a pair of Bryant free throws, pushed the Lakers lead to 111-104 with just five seconds left and Robin Lopez's jumper with less than a second left accounted for the final margin.
"We're not being selfish, we're doing whatever we can to get the win," Howard said.
Los Angeles led, 25-24, after the first quarter before outscoring New Orleans, 29-18, in the second frame to take a 54-42 lead into the break.
"You can't have a second quarter like we did. We missed a lot of easy shots," said Hornets coach Monty Williams. "They won the game, but we had a chance. We just couldn't get the stops we needed, but our guys fought."
The Hornets trailed by as many as 15 in the third, but were able to close gap to 83-73 entering the final frame.
Jodie Meeks scored 13 points off the bench for the Lakers ... Los Angeles outrebounded the Hornets by a 50-37 margin ... Anthony Davis scored 18 points and Robin Lopez scored 16 points to go with nine boards for the Hornets ... New Orleans scored 24 points off of 15 Lakers' turnovers.