The Charlotte Hornets battled back from a 19-point deficit to a 117-113 win against the Los Angeles Lakers thanks to a near triple-double from guard Kemba Walker. Walker finished with 28 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds in 41 minutes.
The Hornets were unable to prevent the Lakers from scoring in the first half, allowing them to connect on 12 of their 18 3-point attempts and shoot 58 percent from the field overall. Jordan Clarkson shot 7-of-9 from behind the arc for the game, while Nick Young shot 5-of-10.
Not great. Look, there’s no world in which allowing the Lakers to score 73 points is okay.
But in typical Hornets fashion, everything started to come together in the third quarter. The defense picked up, and stellar offensive play from Walker helped the Hornets go on a 16-4 run to start the quarter.
The Lakers only scored 40 points in the entire second half and shot 37.5 percent from the field. That’s the Hornets defense we know and love.
The Hornets were never able to run away with the game after they finally regained the lead late in the third. Instead, they traded small runs with the Lakers right until the end of the game.
With the game tied at 113-113 with just over 20 seconds left, Nicolas Batum drove to the rim, was cut off, spun away from the baseline and hit a fading banker to put the Hornets up two points. The Lakers missed their next shot. The Hornets rebounded the ball.
Free throws. Game over. Hornets win.
Batum finished with 23 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds. His excellent play continues.
This seems to be the norm for the Hornets. They open games poorly, head coach Steve Clifford tears into them at half time, and they correct their problems in the third and (sometimes) pull out a win.
It’s not an ideal strategy, but it worked tonight. Knowing Clifford, the team’s going to get an earful about the first half over the next few days.
Still, a win is a win. The Hornets improve to 16-13 on the season. They next play the Chicago Bulls on Friday.