The Los Angeles Lakers are trying to avoid their third consecutive defeat, hosting the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.
The Staples Center crowd can expect fireworks as both teams boast talented offenses but struggle on the defensive end. Head coach Frank Vogel has acknowledged that his team can’t effectively contain talented guards who can inflict real damage from beyond the arc this season. Charlotte’s wunderkind LaMelo Ball couldn’t fit these criteria more, averaging 20 points per game and shooting 41% from beyond the arc in addition to his flash passes and slick moves.
But besides the skilled playmaker, the vulnerable Lakers’ defense will have to watch out for Hornets forwards Miles Bridges and Gordon Hayward. The latter has rejuvenated his career in Charlotte after three tough years in Boston. The proven 3-point shooter converts 49.1% of his attempts from downtown and averages 17.8 points per game this year.
Meanwhile, Bridges is enjoying a breakout season, scoring team-high 22.5 points each night. The 23-year-old power forward has become a talented, multi-lever scorer, shooting 35.8% from behind the 3-point line while also chipping in 10.7 points in the paint every game, the most on the Charlotte roster.
With the dangerous trio in the ranks, the Hornets earned the title of one of the NBA’s most lethal firepowers this season — scoring 113.5 points on average, the second-most in the league. That’s some bad news for the Lakers, who give up the third-most points per game (111.3).
Perhaps the best way to beat the Hornets could be to outscore them. Charlotte struggles on the defensive end even more than the Lakers, ranking last in both the defensive rating (114.5) and opponents’ points per game (117.6). Their defensive vulnerability contributed to the team’s four-game losing streak that turned a good 5-2 start into a disappointing 5-6 record.
Charlotte ranks among the teams allowing both most field goal attempts, three-point attempts, and three-points made. The Hornets also let their rivals dominate the glass, giving up the fifth-most rebounds in the NBA.
The Lakers are well-equipped to benefit from Charlotte’s weaknesses. Anthony Davis is averaging 11 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game. Russell Westbrook adds 8.5 rebounds per game thanks to his athletic frame.
Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony, Kent Bazemore and Austin Reaves have been continuously showing off a great shooting form from beyond the arc — with the former averaging a career-best 49.2% from deep.
All of the mentioned Lakers are expected to feature against Charlotte. Davis is feeling better after struggling with a stomach bug in the recent loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. He will also play despite some lingering soreness in his sprained thumb.
LeBron James remains inactive after suffering an abdomen injury last week.
One of the teams will end their losing streak on Monday. The Lakers need to toughen on defense and fix their aim if they want to survive what is promising to be a shootout at Staples Center.
Lakers (5-5) vs. Hornets (5-6)
7:30 p.m. PT, Nov. 8, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: NBA TV, Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Kent Bazemore
PF: Anthony Davis
C: DeAndre Jordan
Key Reserves: Carmelo Anthony, Austin Reaves, Malik Monk, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Wayne Ellington
Projected Hornets Starting Lineup:
PG: LaMelo Ball
SG: Terry Rozier
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Miles Bridges
C: Mason Plumlee
Key Reserves: Cody Martin, Kelly Oubre Jr., Nick Richards
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