Video Credit: NBA

FSM Essential Recap: Lakers vs. Hornets – Game 41

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As it turns out the All-Star break was all the Los Angeles Lakers need to get right as the defending NBA champions are currently firing on all cylinders, beating the Charlotte Hornets, 116-105, to earn their fourth straight win at Staples Center Thursday night.

 

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.

 

Lakers vs Hornets
 Photo Credit: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

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 NBA 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.

 

Lakers vs Hornets
Photo Credit: Lakers

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.

 

After the game, Lakers head coach Frank Vogal talked about LeBron James being the NBA’s MVP.

 

Lakers vs Hornets
Photo Credit: Yahoo

He’s got great energy,” Vogel said. “He’s playing every night, setting a great tone I think for young players for the whole league. If he feels good, he’s going to be in there. Compete at a super high level and dominate the game.”

He’s the MVP of the league in my opinion, but thus far because of that mindset and what he’s doing for our team, he just wins the game in so many different ways. We’re the No. 1 defense in the league without Anthony Davis for most of this season largely because of what he does with his play and his quarterbacking and his voice. He has the ability to put up triple-doubles, score 30-40 points. He’s really doing it all for us.

Vogel added that the superstar has gone too long without being recognized for how dominant he has been. “I think it’s a mistake on the voters’ part to go season after season without voting the best player in the league MVP,” Vogel said.

It’s the simplest way to put it. There’s been other players that have been deserving, but he’s been the best player in the league for as long as I can remember. Maybe since his second or third year in the league. It’s just one of those things that is unfortunate, it’s not right. He should get it this year. He’s doing it every night and no one is as deserving.

Vogal called Lebron the game’s greatest player ever.

He’s the best player to ever play the game, in my opinion,” Vogel said. “I stated that, I think many feel that and he continues to prove it with his play. It’s just that simple”

“For him to do it this long through a change stylistically with the way the game is played now as opposed to even four-five years ago to still be this dominant to still be the best player in the league, it’s remarkable and obviously he’s doing a great job for us the Lakers to continue to win games and keep us afloat while a player like Anthony Davis is out.”

 

The Lakers take on the Atlanta Hawks saturday afternoon with tip-off at Staples Center is scheduled for 12:30 pm. You can catch the game on Spectrum SportsNet.

 

 

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-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

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