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Hornets fall apart against Lakers, lose 92-107

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The Hornets had their worst game of the season against a desperate Lakers squad, surrendering 65 points in the second half on route to a 107-92 defeat.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers had to sit and think about their winless record for five long days. They played with a hunger and desperation on both sides of the ball that the Hornets just could not match. Where did it all go wrong?

The easy answer is to blame the Hornets awful third quarter, in which they were outscored 34-13 by the Lakers. The Hornets went into halftime with a nine-point lead, and it really should have been even more. Al Jefferson ended up with 23 points, but missed several very easy shots around the rim en route to a subpar 10-23 shooting night. Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist also missed a bunch of layups throughout the game.

It’s hard to dish out more of the blame to either the Hornets offense or defense. On one hand, letting this Lakers offense shoot 51.2%, including a ridiculous 64% in the second half, is unacceptable. On the other hand, going 3-14 from the 3-point line and missing eight free throws is equally tough to swallow.

How can the Hornets improve going forward?

They will need to find shooting. From somewhere. Anywhere.

Gary Neal and P.J. Hairston are fine shooters off the bench, but they only combined to attempt three 3-pointers on the night, and didn’t hit any of them. Brian Roberts was 0-3 on the night and continues to struggle this season shooting and initiating the Hornets offense. If his down play continues, Clifford might give more minutes to Hairston and let Neal and Stephenson run the point.

Speaking of Stephenson, the shot is going to eventually have to fall for him if the Hornets want to have a sustainable offense. Stephenson has always prided himself in effecting the game beyond the points column of the box score, and while that is true, six points in 35 minutes from a primary ball handler is just not going to cut it.

Perhaps getting out in transition might help things for Stephenson and the Hornets offense. The Stephenson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist defensive pairing on the perimeter is one of the better ones in the NBA, and should lead to steals and fast-break opportunities. However, the Hornets only had five fast-break points tonight. An offense becomes a lot easier to guard when everything is in the half court and predictable. Shaking things up – either through different sets or transition chances – will be imperative going forward.

Fortunately for the Hornets, this game only counts for 1.2% of the season. Unfortunately, things don’t get easier this week, as they continue a tough West Coast trip, playing in Portland on Tuesday and then back-to-back games in Phoenix and Golden State on Friday and Saturday. Hopefully Clifford and company can get things back on track quickly.