The Hornets jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead, largely thanks to strong play from Miles Bridges and Dwayne Bacon. The lead didn’t hold because the Hornets struggled to defend. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit several 3-pointers while his teammates got free for several dunks, but the Hornets were able to keep up with efficient offense. Devonte’ Graham checked in late in the period and added his name to the young contributor list. After one, he, Bacon, and Bridges had 21 of the Hornets’ 35 points.
The Hornets defense only got worse in the second quarter. The Lakers scored 36 points in the period while shooting 52% from the field and hauling in a large handful of offensive rebounds. The Hornets offense couldn’t keep up this time despite shooting 50% from the field. At the half, they trailed 69-59.
The defense continued to falter in the third. The Lakers made 10 of their first 14 shots, including a stretch of 12 straight points, to grow their lead as large as 18. The Hornets responded with some nifty Kemba Walker forays to the basket complemented by some buckets and free throws from Frank Kaminsky and Jeremy Lamb. The third quarter ended the same way it started, with the Hornets down 10.
The fourth quarter started similarly to the third, though this time the Hornets offense was more to blame. The Hornets scored just two points in the first 4:23 of the final quarter. The offense was brutally stagnant with the bulk of nearly every possession taken up by unproductive dribbling in isolation. Marvin Williams and Dwayne Bacon 3-pointers sandwiched a Moritz Wagner trey ball to give the Hornets some signs of life just over five minutes into the quarter, but that was quickly killed by 3-pointers by LeBron James and Lance Stephenson.
For a team that desperately needs wins with the playoffs on the line, this was an embarrassing effort. The Hornets gave up several breakaway buckets off missed shots and let the Lakers corral 11 offensive rebounds. The Lakers shot 56% from the field and 47% from three. In the final three quarters, the Lakers connected on 15 of their 28 3-point attempts, many of them wide open. It was bad. It was unacceptable.
Walker, Bridges, Bacon, and Graham do get props for their offensive output. Walker had 24 points and 6 assists. Bridges had 17 points and 5 assists. Bacon had 21 points, his third straight 20 point game. Graham had 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting and chipped in four assists.
Up next is a visit to Oakland to take on the Golden State Warriors.