Video Credit: NBA

New FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs Hornets- Game 50

Franchise Sports Media

Los Angeles Lakers (24-26) | Charlotte Hornets (28-22)

 

The Los Angeles Lakers saw the old Russell Westbrook last night, but they still fell to the Charlotte Hornets 117-114.

 

Lakers vs Hornets
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

What happens when you put the best offensive team in the NBA against a team without four of their best players? Well, this game was undoubtedly intense in all aspects and had playoff vibes at the end. The Lakers beat the Hornets in OT earlier this season without Lebron, so they looked to repeat that in light of a disappointing season.

The Lakers went 0-6 in their first possessions of the game, while they allowed Terry Rozier to lead a 9-0 run to start for the HornetsWayne Ellington finally ended the run with a three, but Los Angeles went 1-7 from the arc as the first rolled on.

The largest lead of the quarter was 15 for the Hornets, as they picked up exactly where they left off in Indiana. The Lakers struggled with free throws early, going 3-8 to start. However, adjustments appeared to be made quickly as the Lakers began cutting the lead, with Carmelo Anthony and Kent Bazemore figuring it out from the line. The quarter ended with a three for Terry Rozier putting Charlotte up 10. Charlotte fans could see Lebron and AD less than pleased on the sidelines, mainly because the crowd was roaring.

The Lakers finally got something going at the beginning of the second, as a 7-0 run to start reduced the lead for the Hornets. A three from Bazemore and a jumper from Russ got the Lakers to their smallest deficit of the half (2 points) before the game began to get out of hand. A 9-0 run followed for Charlotte and led to a one-sided finish in the half, as they were up by 15 at the break. The bench showed heart in the half for L.A., however, as they shot 50 percent from the field.

Fifteen total points from the starters in the first half was an ugly display for the depleted Lakers. The starting lineup of Russell Westbrook, Avery Bradley, Deandre Jordan, Stanley Johnson, and Wayne Ellington initially looked like one of the worst lineup cards Frank Vogel has ever had to put together. With Lamelo Ball and Miles Bridges leading the offense for the Hornets, it looked like everyone was beating up on the Lakers.

Charlotte had 21 attempts from the arc and only hit 6 of them, but the Lakers’ inability to guard in the paint cost them. Without their two best defenders, this one was turning out to be another nightmare for the purple and gold.

 

With Kent Bazemore leading the Lakers with 13 points at the half, it didn’t look good for them as they were down 65-49.  

 

Lakers vs Hornets
Photo Credit: Jacob Kupferman/AP

However, no early lead is ever safe for a team, and Russell Westbrook woke up with a vengeance in the third.  He led a 30-9 run for the Lakers, increasing his first-half total from 5 points to 19. Austin Reaves tied the game with a three, as the bench continued to work well with Russ. The third quarter ran out with one final bucket for the Hornets, but the Lakers only trailed by two going into the fourth.

The fourth quarter was a great self-esteem boost for the struggling Lakers, as the action remained close. Buckets by Lamelo Ball and Ish Smith had the Hornets on their way to regaining the lead, but Westbrook and Stanley Johnson scored consecutively to keep things interesting. P.J. Washington blocked the hot hand in Westbrook, as the Hornets gained a 10-point lead again with six minutes to play.

This did anything but slow down the hall of famer as he began to improve his play even more. Austin Reaves followed a Russ and-one with two straight buckets of his own, giving him 16 on the night and cutting the lead to just four. Terry Rozier responded again with a three, giving the Hornets a 9-point lead to shrink the Lakers’ chances.

Westbrook wasn’t scared in the slightest, however, as he proceeded to score nine straight points and take over the game by cutting the lead to 3 with under a minute left. This left Michael Jordan visibly concerned for his team, as he was probably wishing he was out there to stop Russ himself.

With everyone on the edge of their seats, Carmelo Anthony blocked a Rozier layup attempt to energize the Laker bench. Stanley Johnson scored on the fastbreak, and the lead was down to just one with 24.9 to go. Ball was fouled, and he made only 1 of 2 from the line, giving the Lakers a chance to either tie or win with a three. Westbrook had the ball and the last shot rights Friday night, and as he put up the three, the world stopped for a split second, but it failed to go in, securing the win for the Hornets. 

While Lakers fans are used to these results by now, 35 points from Westbrook opened Laker Nations’ eyes to what could be. His 30 points in the second half were the most by a Laker since Kobe’s last game, something the veteran will not soon forget. Without the elite duo of LeBron and AD, the Lakers knew all they could do was compete the best they could.

That’s exactly what they did at the end of the day, but Miles Bridges led the scoring for the Hornets while three others – Terry Rozier, Lamelo Ball, and Ish Smith – had 20 for CharlotteIsh Smith was 10-12 from the field. The Hornets are ranked first in team PPG in the NBA with 114.9, so the Lakers should be somewhat proud they kept it close. As they continue to await returns from four of their best players, including Kendrick Nunn, they left Charlotte with some momentum to hopefully build on.

 

The Lakers will travel to Atlanta to face the Hawks early Sunday. The game can be seen at 10 a.m. PT on Spectrum.

 

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– Duncan Dye – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Duncan on Instagram @duncan.dye42

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