The Los Angeles Lakers have been less than stellar since the All-Star break and trade of Lou Williams, as they have suffered two double-digit losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
They looked to get back in the win column Tuesday night, as they hosted the Charlotte Hornets. Charlotte also came into the game struggling, as they were losers of six of their last seven.
After agreeing to buyout Jose Calderon, the Lakers gave a 10-day contract to David Nwaba of the Los Angeles D-Fenders to fill their open roster spot. The guard made his Lakers debut against Charlotte.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton decided to stick with the same starting lineup that he has been using lately, with D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young starting in the backcourt, and rookie Brandon Ingram. Julius Randle and Tarik Black starting up front.
Russell got going early as he drilled a three on the first possession of the game. Ingram then connected on a midrange jumper to put the Lakers out in front 5-0 early.
The Hornets lone All-Star Kemba Walker had an answer on the other end on the next possession, as he hit a three of his own to put Charlotte on the board.
With the Lakers leading 7-3, Russell hit another three to put the Lakers up 10-3, but Marvin Williams and Nicolas Batum quickly answered with threes to cut it to 10-9.
Charlotte took its first lead of the night as Russell fouled Walker on a three-point attempt. He drained the three and completed the four-point play to put his team ahead 15-14. Randle came up with a steal on the next possession and took it coast-to-coast for a dunk to put the Lakers back ahead midway through the first quarter.
With the game tied at 22- Ivica Zubac put a nice post move on Williams and finished at the basket to put the Lakers back up 24-22. Williams quickly answered with another three though to put Charlotte back ahead.
The Lakers then closed the quarter on a 7-2 run and led 31-27 after one quarter.
With the Lakers new-look second unit in, Charlotte opened the second quarter on a 12-2 run, causing Walton to use a timeout.
The Lakers struggles continued out of the timeout, and the run got all the way up to 16-2 before Russell hit a three to end it, cutting the deficit to 43-36.
Both kept firing from deep, as Marco Belinelli and Ingram exchanged threes midway through the second. Ingram’s three triggered a 10-0 run for the Lakers as Randle finished a couple easy layups, tying the game and forcing the Hornets to call a timeout.
The Lakers continued to struggle guarding the three-point line, as Frank Kaminsky and Walker hit back-to-back triples out of the timeout to put them back ahead by six. Russell missed a good look at the buzzer, and Charlotte led 58-55 at halftime.
Randle had a very solid first half with 14 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Walker led all scorers with 16 points, while Russell was not far behind with 15 on 5-of-10 shooting.
Black, who had a very quiet first half, scored the first six points of the second half for the Lakers, bringing them within one.
Both teams struggled shooting to begin the third, but midway through the quarter Young connected on back-to-back threes to put the Lakers back in front. As has been the case for most of the game, the Hornets answered quickly though as Kaminsky hit a three, putting the Lakers lead at 69-68.
Black and Ingram both finished emphatically at the rim on back-to-back possessions, putting the Staples Center crowd on their feet and growing the lead to 76-73.
They were able to hang onto that lead going into the fourth quarter as they led 82-80 after three quarters.
Much like the second quarter, the Lakers started off the fourth slow, but the Hornets did also and when Clarkson drove and finished a layup the Lakers still had a two-point lead.
One of the new Lakers, Corey Brewer, energized them by playing defense, as he came up with a steal and took it coast-to-coast for a score to put the Lakers up six, causing Charlotte to call a timeout.
The timeout helped Charlotte, as they went on a 5-0 after to get within one, but Young answered with a three midway through the fourth and the lead was back to four.
Trailing by three with less than four minutes to play, Kaminsky hit a clutch three to tie up the game. Randle took matters into his own hands though on the next possession, earning a three-point after chasing a loose ball.
A few possessions later Charlotte had an opportunity to take the lead, and they did just that as Walker knocked down a step back jumper. Clarkson quickly regained the lead for his team though as he had a nice drive and finish.
But again that lead didn’t last long when Walker and Williams drained back-to-back corner threes on the other end to put Charlotte up five with a minute to play.
Needing a basket to stay in it, Randle found a cutting Clarkson for a dunk, but the attempt was blocked securing a win for the Hornets.
A couple late threes by Russell brought the Lakers within three, but the Hornets hit all their free throws down the stretch and came away with a 109-104 victory.
Walker led all scorers with 30 points to go along with seven assists and five rebounds, while Kaminsky also turned in a solid performance, earning a double-double with 24 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lakers young duo of Randle and Russell led the Lakers in the loss. Randle had 23 points, 16 rebounds and six assists while Russell scored 23 points to go along with nine assists.
The Lakers next take the court Friday night when they host the Boston Celtics at 7:30 p.m. Pacific time.