Picking up a 120-101 win over the Charlotte Hornets, the lopsided score doesn’t tell the story of what was a surprisingly close game. 63-62 in favor of the Lakers at the half, the Lakers needed a strong second-half performance from LeBron James to help open up a lead that they could finally hang onto. Despite James’ second-half surge, the real hero of the game was Dwight Howard – who once again had an exceptional game off the bench.
The Good From the Lakers’ Win Over the Hornets
Dwight Howard put together his best performance of the Lakers’ regular season so far. Picking up a double-double, Howard posted 16 points and 10 rebounds to go with a team-leading four blocks. Providing a consistent burst of energy off the bench, the offense looks to move considerably better with Howard on the floor and his energy is clearly infectious to the rest of the team.
Howard anchored the Lakers down the stretch and his strong play has been a revelation so far. More than willing to play within a limited role, Dwight’s impact was felt in the form of a team-best +23 plus/minus.
While LeBron and the Lakers’ offense struggled in the early going, Anthony Davis put the team on his back and helped carry the Lakers. Making sure they were able to tread water despite a hot-shooting start from the Hornets, Davis would finish with a game-high 29 points to go with 14 rebounds and three blocks.
Davis’ jump shot seemed to be falling a bit better against the Hornets as he knocked down a season-high three deep balls. Davis’ outside shot is crucial to opening up the Laker offense especially considering how effective the team played when Davis was moved to the center.
LeBron James’ Fourth Quarter
James started off slow with only four first half points, however, James came alive in the fourth quarter as the Lakers opened up the sizable lead they took in the third quarter. James poured in 16 second-half points and repeatedly attacked the rim with authority down the stretch before being pulled out of the game with two minutes to go.
The Third Quarter
After an ugly first half, the Lakers needed a strong collective third quarter to help quiet the Hornets and re-establish their dominance. The team clearly responded to Vogel’s adjustments at the half and shut down the Hornets to the tune of only 18 points. While the offense took a second to get started, the Lakers got hot at the end of the quarter and were able to build a solid seven-point lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The Bad From the Lakers’ Win Over the Hornets
LeBron James’ first-half aggressiveness
Although Anthony Davis got hot early on and helped carry the Lakers, James’ absence on the offensive end was felt early on. He was piling up the assists but his unwillingness to attack the basket and finish near the rim was clearly felt as the Lakers were never able to establish a lead over the Hornets that they could hang onto. The Lakers were able to survive against the Hornets despite James’ early struggles but they won’t have the same luxury facing off with some of the better teams in the Western Conference.
The Ugly From the Lakers’ Win Over the Hornets
Lakers’ first-half defense
Giving up 62 points in one half to the Charlotte Hornets is never a good look. Though Cody Zeller and Miles Bridges helped the Hornets’ cause by knocking down their open looks, the fact remains that the Lakers shouldn’t have ever put them in a position to produce like that to begin with. While the Lakers tightened things up in the second half with strong defensive third and fourth quarters, the fact that a team with no offensive identity was able to have such success on the unit is a little cause for concern.
The Lakers looked excellent against the Utah Jazz, indicating that the Lakers most likely came into the matchup looking ahead of the lowly Hornets. After making adjustments at the half, the Lakers were able to hold the Hornets to just 18 and x points in the third and fourth quarters respectively.