Hornets coach Monty Williams was at a loss to explain why the Hornets completely came apart during the final minutes, winding up with only nine points in the final period while giving up 33.
"We just couldn't execute, and once it started to roll that way it's hard to stop that momentum," Williams said. "We gave up 33 when we needed to get stops and that is hard to swallow and that is all on my shoulders. There is nobody else to look at but me."
Anthony Davis added 13 points for New Orleans but played less than a minute of the fourth quarter because of Williams' decision to leave Anderson in the entire period.
"Ryan was knocking down shots," Williams said. "He spaces the floor so much that it gives Greivis and Eric room to operate. So, that's a call I made."
Al-Farouq Aminu had 12 points and 16 rebounds, and Austin Rivers had 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting, but did not play in the second half after breaking a bone in his right hand. Team officials say he'll miss 4-6 weeks.
The Lakers came in with a nine-game regular season winning streak against New Orleans, but when Howard's rim-rattling dunk put Los Angeles ahead 8-4, that was the largest lead the Lakers would have until the final seconds.
After the first quarter ended in a tie at 28, the Hornets then turned in their best single quarter in the entire season.
New Orleans scored 39 points in the second quarter, giving them a season-high 67 points at the half.
Rivers, playing more aggressively and confidently than usual, opened the period with a driving layup that ignited a 7-0 run that included Anderson's 3. Later, Rivers spun into the lane and pulled up for a short jumper, then added two more floaters in what turned into a 27-6 run. Gordon hit three 3s during the spurt.
Aminu's free throws capped the run, which gave New Orleans its largest lead at 63-38.
Bryant settled the Lakers down by taking the ball inside and getting to the foul line, scoring six straight. He finished the quarter with a driving layup as he was fouled to give him 17 points and pull Los Angeles to 67-48 at halftime.
Notes: The Hornets have not beaten the Lakers in the regular season since March 29, 2010, in New Orleans. ... Vasquez has 23 double-doubles this season. ... Those sitting courtside included actor Robert DeNiro (who sat next to Hornets owner Tom Benson), Baltimore Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones, Saints coach Sean Payton and new Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Earlier in the day, Jones, a New Orleans native, represented the Ravens when the club donated a pair of Harley Davidson motorcycles to the New Orleans Police Department in an expression of gratitude for the security protection the club received during Super Bowl week.