Coming off a dominant defensive victory over the Utah Jazz, the Lakers take on the lowly Charlotte Hornets in another home game. The Hornets edged out a close win over the young Chicago Bulls before being blown out at home by the Minnesota Timberwolves. If the Lakers are the championship contenders they think they are, there shouldn’t be an excuse for anything less than a lopsided victory against a team expected to not come anywhere near the playoffs in the Eastern Conference.
The Lakers looked much better defensively against the Utah Jazz as Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and JaVale McGee did an excellent job of setting the tone early with dominant rim protection. This allowed Danny Green and Avery Bradley to harass Utah’s duo of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell, creating numerous turnovers and holding Conley to just 3 of 11 from the field.
LeBron James and Troy Daniels led the way on the offensive end. James poured in 32 points while Troy Daniels stepped up off the bench and put up 15 points on 5 of 9 shooting, including 4 of 8 from downtown. Daniels’ play was crucial in helping the Lakers avoid being blown out with the starters resting. If not Daniels, it seems the Lakers will need at least someone to step up off the bench to help keep things afloat against most teams.
Los Angeles Lakers Starting Lineup & Roster Against Charlotte Hornets
*Projected Starting Lineup, Will Be Updated Upon Official Lineup Announcement*
Rajon Rondo Continues to Miss Time with Calf Injury
Unfortunately, Rajon Rondo is out yet again with what has been upgraded to a mild calf strain. Previously out with general soreness in his calf, Rondo underwent an MRI which confirmed the injury. Still listed as day to day, Rondo has been practicing on his calf and seems to be fairly close to a recovery.
The Lakers have missed Rondo’s presence, especially on the second unit. With a number of shooters and nobody to help create looks to get them open, Rondo looks to be an ideal fit to help unlock more consistent play from players like Troy Daniels, Quinn Cook, and Alex Caruso. While Cook and Caruso can both play minutes at point guard, they seem better suited as an off-ball scoring threat utilized with a true playmaker.
Rondo’s return should also help lighten the load on James, who has been shouldering a huge load in terms of facilitating the team’s offense. While James has never been a stranger to assists and is one of the league’s best playmakers, he typically functions best with a guard who can handle the ball and give him occasional breaks on the offensive end. While Rondo is no Wade or Irving at this stage in his career, he can certainly still help provide James with a much needed on-court breather from time to time.