After spending 5 days in Los Angeles, the Hornets return home to New Orleans for Game 3 of their first round playoff series versus the Lakers. Tip-off tonight is set for 8:30 at a soldout Hive. Here is a preview of the matchup from the AP and

The Hornets already are showing signs of making the first round of the playoffs more than a mere formality for the two-time defending champs, having seized home advantage with a 1-1 split of the series' first two games in Los Angeles.

Four-time All-Star Chris Paul and his upstart squad will be back home for Friday night's Game 3, which perhaps not-so-coincidentally sold out soon after Paul led the Hornets to an upset victory in the opening game of the best-of-seven series.

Even in losing on Wednesday night, the Hornets showed they were not about to let the Lakers wipe the floor with them. New Orleans remained competitive until the final minutes of Game 2 and lost by nine despite missing 12 free throws, turning the ball over 16 times and having starting center Emeka Okafor in early foul trouble.

Win or lose tonight, the Hornets have proven they are not backing down. Despite being swept in the 4 regular season matchups by the defending champs, New Orleans is not intimidated. The pressure is on the Hornets to win Game 3. With a victory by the fleur-de-bees, the pressure immediately shifts back to the Lakers.