Final - OT
  for this game

After failed trade, Paul leads Hornets against Lakers

Feb 20, 2009 - 3:17 PM New Orleans (32-20) at LA Lakers (44-10) 10:30 p.m. EST

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The New Orleans Hornets were unable to add to their frontcourt depth after an unusual set of circumstances forced Tyson Chandler to return to the team.

As long as the Hornets have Chris Paul, their frontcourt may not matter.

Paul and New Orleans go for their third straight win on Friday when they visit the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers.

One day after being dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder in a cost-cutting move for the Hornets, Chandler, who has missed the last 12 games with a sprained left ankle, failed his physical, nullifying the deal that could have saved the team $24.6 million over the last two seasons.

In the deal, New Orleans acquired forwards Joe Smith and Chris Wilcox. Both of their contracts expire at the conclusion of the season.

"We welcome Tyson back with open arms," Hornets general manger Jeff Bower said. "We went into this trade to garner more frontcourt depth to add to our team as we continue our push toward the playoffs. We expect Tyson and the rest of our big guys to step up to the challenge."

While the veteran center remains sidelined, Paul is doing his best to keep New Orleans in the thick of the playoff race.

The All-Star point guard recorded 36 points and 10 assists on Wednesday, leading the Hornets to a 117-85 triumph over the Orlando Magic.

Paul will need a similar performance against a Lakers squad that is coming off consecutive wins and has won nine of their last 10 overall, including Wednesday's 129-121 victory over the Golden State Warriors.