Although both teams were severely short-handed, the Los Angeles Lakers wound up pulling out a tightly contested 101-93 victory over the Charlotte Hornets to close out their road trip.
The Lakers were once again out a key player as Markieff Morris missed the game due to a sprained ankle. Without Morris, Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Schroder carried the offensive load as the duo combined for 43 points.
However, the hero of the night was Alex Caruso, who nailed a 3-pointer in the closing minutes to seal the game for Los Angeles.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel acknowledged Caruso’s three was huge but also credited him for his defense.
“Of course, for a lot of reasons obviously, that was a big shot for us to seal the game,” Vogel said. “But he did so much dirty work for us it’s ridiculous and for him to contribute offensively the way he did for us tonight, it’s just good for everyone. Everybody is happy for him. Still, even though he hit that three, to me, the biggest play of the game was the containment play of Graham where he cut him off one way, Graham misdirected and tried to get a three off and Alex came back and double-hand contested that one as well. So I mean, just a great two-way performance by him, he’s definitely the star of the game tonight.”
Caruso had his fingerprints all over the win as he played his normal brand of hustle defense, but offensively also chipped in with 13 points. The guard led all players in plus-minus as he was a +21 in his 25 minutes, doing all the things the Lakers needed to secure the win.
Even short-handed, the Purple and Gold find ways to win games and they will need to continue to scrap together until the team is finally healthy.
Caldwell-Pope, Drummond praise Caruso
Caruso is beloved in the locker room for his willingness to do what it takes to win, and after the game, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope outlined the type of player he is.
“AC, he’s a hard-nosed guy,” Caldwell-Pope said. “He’s gonna dive on the balls for us, like loose balls. He’s gonna be that type of player where when we need that hustle, he’s gonna be there. He’s gonna be in the right position to give us that effort.
Andre Drummond echoed those praises, noting that Caruso makes an impact whenever he plays. “He’s a hell of a great player,” Drummond said. “He’s a great player on both ends of the court. His plus/minus say it. There’s not much more to say. When he’s on the floor, great things happen.”
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