It turns out the All-Star break was all the Los Angeles Lakers need to get right as they are currently firing on all cylinders, beating the Charlotte Hornets, 116-105, to earn their fourth straight win.
The game began with LeBron James in full attack mode. He hit three of his first four shots — including a three — to score nine points in just five minutes of play. Both teams were hot offensively, shooting 6-for-9 at the first timeout. L.A. led 15-14 with 6:50 to go in the first.
Alex Caruso was the first sub of the night for the Lakers after missing the last two games with a concussion. He made an immediate impact, dishing it to Damian Jones for a dunk as a part of a 6-0 Lakers run. Devonte Graham broke the dry spell with a three-pointer.
The offense continued to roll even with James off the floor as L.A. was able to get whatever they wanted against a porous Hornets defense. After one, the Lakers led 31-24.
Despite free throws slowing down the pace of the game considerably, the Lakers were able to keep their foot on the gas at the start of the second. The Hornets could not stop the Lakers from getting to the paint, causing their deficit to grow to 41-31.
L.A.’s defense, led by Wesley Matthews’ two steals and one block, completely shut down the Hornets offensive attack. LaMelo Ball — who is the current leader for Rookie of the Year — had just four points on 1-for-7 shooting midway through the second.
The Lakers were able to extend their lead all the way to 18 points, but a push by the Hornets closed the gap in the final minutes of the second quarter. At halftime, the Lakers led 60-45 thanks to back-to-back makes by James.
The Hornets came out of the break with new life, going on a 10-2 run in the first two and a half minutes to cut their deficit to just seven. The run continued after a Lakers timeout, with it hitting 19-4 bringing the score to 64-64 at the 6:50 mark.
L.A. needed a spark after a horrible first five minutes and found it with the three-pointer. Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope combined to hit three straight from deep to regain a 74-66 lead.
Both teams traded baskets the rest of the quarter, and the Lakers held a slim four-point lead heading into the fourth and final period.
Turnovers defined the first few minutes of the fourth, as both teams combined for four turnovers in the first two minutes. The Hornets were able to sprinkle in a couple of threes, making it 86-85 Lakers with 10:11 to go. Five straight points from Markieff Morris out of the timeout made it 91-85 to force a Hornets stoppage.
Dennis Schroder and James took over for the Lakers from there, keeping the Hornets at arms reach for most of the fourth quarter. The young team wouldn’t go away, but the Lakers were able to hold a 108-99 lead at the 3:01 mark.
While the Hornets continued to push, James and the Lakers’ defense were simply too much and L.A. closed out the victory with ease. James wasn’t able to secure his third straight triple-double, but he still finished with a dominant 37 points to go along with eight rebounds and six assists.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!