The Los Angeles Lakers continued their road trip on Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets in the second game of a back-to-back.
Unfortunately, as has been the case virtually all season, the Lakers were shorthanded in this one as LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Malik Monk all sat out due to injury. Even without key players, the Lakers battled all night but came up just short in a 117-114.
To no surprise, the Lakers got off to a poor start as they began the game 0-for-6 from the field and trailed 9-0, forcing Frank Vogel to burn a timeout.
The Lakers finally got on the board out of the timeout when Wayne Ellington, who got a rare start, knocked down a three.
Outside of that though, there weren’t a ton of positives for the Lakers in the first quarter as they continued to struggle offensively without three of their best scorers.
Some guys off the bench provided a bit of a spark though as Carmelo Anthony, Austin Reaves and Kent Bazemore all knocked down some shots. The Lakers cut a 15-point deficit down to seven, but Terry Rozier beat the buzzer with a three so they trailed 31-21 at the end of the first quarter.
Anthony, Reaves and Bazemore continued that strong play into the second quarter, going on another run that was led by them simply playing hard. After Russell Westbrook got in on the action with a midrange shot, the Lakers cut their deficit to just two.
Ish Smith looked like an All-Star for the Hornets though, scoring 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting in just five minutes to keep his team in front.
Charlotte was able to weather the storm because of that and then when the Lakers’ starters came back in, they continued to struggle. As a result, the Lakers trailed by 16 at the half, 65-49.
Vogel went with Anthony over Stanley Johnson to begin the second half hoping it would provide a spark, but it didn’t work as the Lakers’ starting unit continued to struggle.
After the Lakers’ deficit ballooned to 20 once again, they finally were able to make some outside shots. Ellington knocked down a pair of threes while Anthony made another and Westbrook even got in on the action to get it back down to 12.
Westbrook, who really struggled in the first half, continued to pick up his play in the third quarter with a pair of layups to get the Lakers within single digits.
The Lakers came all the way back and tied the game after Reaves drained another three, and after the end of the third quarter, they faced a very slim deficit at 87-85.
As was the case in the first half, Smith help the Hornets weather the storm by making a pair of shots to improve to 7-for-7 on the night. After a bad foul by Talen Horton-Tucker on a 3-point attempt and then a transition layup for Charlotte, their lead was back up to 10 midway through the fourth.
Out of a timeout though, Westbrook made another nice play to earn an and-one to get it back to a 7-point deficit. Reaves then had six straight points and after a technical free throw by Anthony, it was a 4-point game once again.
With three minutes left, the Lakers had a tough call go their way as it looked like Horton-Tucker took a charge on Miles Bridges. Instead, a block was called and he completed the three-point play to get the lead back to nine.
Westbrook responded with back-to-backs layups and a pair of threes to get it down to three though with a little under a minute to play.
Needing a stop, the Lakers got it, and then Johnson made a layup to cut it to just one. The Lakers were then forced to foul with 10 seconds left, and Ball made one of two free throws to put the Hornets’ lead back at two.
Westbrook got a good look at a three, but it unfortunately would rim out and the Lakers went on to lose.
Although the Lakers came up short, it was an incredible effort by the whole team, but most notably Westbrook, who had 30 points in the second half.
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