The Los Angeles Lakers returned to Crypto.com Arena on Friday night, hosting the Charlotte Hornets in their final home game of 2022.
After L.A. went down early in the second half, they were never truly able to recover, losing 134-130 to drop to 13-19.
LaMelo Ball got off to a quick start with four early points to give his team a 6-2 lead while the Lakers committed some silly turnovers. LeBron James got going from there though with six straight points to give L.A. its first lead.
After Lonnie Walker IV drilled an open corner 3 to extend the Lakers’ lead to 14-8 midway through the first, the Hornets were first to take their first timeout.
The Lakers got two key bench pieces back in Austin Reaves and Russell Westbrook and they made an immediate impact with the latter finding the former for a corner 3 to extend the lead to nine. After a nice close to the quarter by Gordon Hayward though, the Lakers’ lead was 31-27 going into the second.
Charlotte continued its run into the second quarter, stretching it to 12-1 to regain the lead as the Lakers struggled offensively. Patrick Beverley ended the run with a much-needed 3 though, draining one right in the face of Kelly Oubre Jr.
That got the Lakers going a bit from deep with Dennis Schroder, Thomas Bryant and Westbrook all hitting one as well. After James got in on the action with a triple to beat the halftime buzzer, the Lakers went into the locker room tied with the Hornets at 67.
The Lakers came out sluggish to start the third quarter as the Hornets went on an 8-0 run, forcing Darvin Ham to take a quick timeout. The timeout didn’t change much as Charlotte stretched its leads to 16 before Ham took yet another timeout.
Westbrook and Reaves led another little Lakers run after coming in midway through the quarter to get the deficit back to nine, this time making Steve Clifford call a timeout.
The Lakers went into the fourth quarter trailing by 10 at 97-87, needing to make a run to get back in it. They cut into the deficit a little bit to get within seven, but Terry Rozier responded with a 3 to get it back to double digits.
When Ham went back to his starting lineup midway through the fourth quarter, the Lakers finally began to make a dent. James hit a triple and a pair of layups while Walker completed a four-point play, getting it back down to three.
Again though, the Hornets continued to answer as Mason Plumlee went at Bryant for a layup and then Rozier followed with another 3. Despite the Lakers’ progress, their deficit was back at eight with three minutes to play.
L.A. didn’t quit though and responded with five straight points of their own, setting up so an interesting finish. After Ball and Beverley exchanged 3s, the Lakers finally got a couple stops and then James hit a layup to tie it in the final minute.
Hayward gave the Hornets a two-point lead with six seconds left on a goaltend by James, giving the Lakers one final chance. Schroder got a look at an open corner 3 at the buzzer but missed, resulting in the loss.
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