The Los Angeles Lakers lost their third straight game last night to the Memphis Grizzlies, but they will look to redeem themselves tonight against the Charlotte Hornets. Once again, the Lakers got down big early in the game against the Grizzlies and they could not claw their way back into the game.
Tonight, they face another tough defensive team in the Charlotte Hornets and the Lakers are still in search of a consistent way to score. Kobe Bryant mentioned that his knee was bothering him prior to scoring 19 points against the Grizzlies, but it will not keep him out in his last visit to Charlotte. The Lakers are on their second game of a back-to-back and will look for a competitive game against the Hornets after getting blown out for three consecutive games.
Frontcourt: The Hornets have a relatively weak frontcourt, so Roy Hibbert, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. will have an opportunity to have a big game tonight. Nobody in the Hornets frontcourt scores the ball well, but they defend well as a unit, so the Lakers should not take them lightly.
A key frontcourt player coming off the bench is 2015 No. 9 overall pick, Frank Kaminsky. Kaminsky has not had a fantastic rookie season, but his style of play can allow him to have a big game against the Lakers. The big man out of Wisconsin is a stretch-four who can shoot and put the ball on the floor to create scoring opportunities, so the Lakers must close out hard when he catches the ball on the perimeter.
Backcourt: The biggest scoring threat for the Hornets is their point guard, Kemba Walker. Walker is averaging 18 points and five assists this season, and will probably have a field day against the Lakers young backcourt. Walker is a quick guard who can get to the rim and wreak havoc on the defense, so the Lakers might be in for a long night trying to defend him.
Starting alongside Walker is former Portland Trail Blazer, Nicolas Batum. The 6’8″ shooting guard is the Hornets second leading scorer behind Walker, averaging 16 points along with seven rebounds per game. Batum can be a problem for the Lakers with his smooth shooting touch and great length on defense.
Keys to Victory:
Play With Confidence: The Lakers are not a good team, period. It has almost gotten to a point where they will not even compete and have already given up before the game starts. They do not have any confidence in themselves and some are questioning the system, but if they want to string a few wins together, they need to start playing with some confidence. The Lakers need to come out with a winner’s mentality and battle every night and the wins will slowly start coming along.
Defense: The Lakers allowed the Grizzlies, who are the worst scoring team in the NBA, to score 112 points against them. They only average 95 points per game, but they scored on the Lakers defense easily. The Lakers need to regroup defensively and shift their focus to stopping the other team from scoring so easily. The Lakers will not win another game this season until they decide to buckle down on the defensive end.
Move the Ball: Ball movement has also been one of this team’s biggest weaknesses all season. The ball sticks too often and players off of the ball just sit and watch one of their teammates isolate and desperately try to score. This will not get the job done, and has not gotten the job done this season, as the Lakers have the worst shooting percentage in the league this season. The Lakers need to trust the system, move the ball, and work for the best shot possible on every single possession.
Los Angeles Lakers (5-26) vs. Charlotte Hornets (16-13)
4:00 P.M. PST, December 28, 2015
The Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, North Carolina
TV: TWC SportsNet
Radio: 710 ESPN (English) / 1330 (Spanish)
Hornets Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Nicolas Batum
SF: P.J. Hairston
PF: Marvin Williams
C: Cody Zeller
Key Reserves: PG: Jeremy Lin, C: Spencer Hawes, PF: Frank Kaminsky
Lakers Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Jordan Clarkson
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Kobe Bryant
PF: Larry Nance Jr.
C: Roy Hibbert
Key Reserves: PG: D’Angelo Russell, PF: Julius Randle, PF: Brandon Bass