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Recap: Hornets hang on late to beat Lakers, 134-130

A rather mundane game finished with fireworks and a memorable NBA blooper.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

PJ Washington, LaMelo Ball, and Terry Rozier combined for 70 points as the Charlotte Hornets took down the Los Angeles Lakers in a back and forth affair, 134-130.

After the teams traded several bad misses, LaMelo Ball opened the scoring with a deep triple in transition. Outside of that and a few circus shots from LeBron James, both teams were pretty cold to start the game. The possession of the quarter came when Russell Westbrook checked in and immediately threw a pass in the direction of nothing but Hornets. The only man back for the Lakers was LeBron, who got tripped up by the court monster, leaving an open lane for a Terry Rozier layup. Perhaps a bit of foreshadowing. The teams played out an even first quarter from there with the Hornets trailing 31-27 at the end of it.

The Hornets started the quarter with nine straight points in groups of three. A Kelly Oubre drive and finish followed by a Jalen McDaniels steal on the ensuing inbound put the Hornets up six and forced a Lakers timeout. The Hornets continued the run out of the break, but three straight buckets from Dennis Schroeder pulled the Lakers back into the mix. In all it was a well played offensive quarter from both teams. The teams were knotted up at 67 at the half. PJ Washington’s 14 points led the Hornets at the break.

The Hornets started the third quarter much like the first, this time with a 10-0 run that featured five points from Gordon Hayward. That extended to a 22-5 run after a Terry Rozier transition three. The Lakers were stagnant offensively and slow to transition on defense, and the Hornets capitalized on that to build their lead. They went almost three minutes without a bucket after that point, though the process seemed good enough. Shots just wouldn’t fall. The Lakers used the lull to creep back into the game, but the Hornets still maintained a ten point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

A steal led to this beautiful alley oop to start the fourth quarter.

Since the Hornets can’t have nice things this year and there’s a requirement that at least three players be hurt at all times, Nick Richards turned an ankle early in the quarter and spent the rest of the game in the locker room.

The Hornets get their stiff arm close to double figures for much of the fourth quarter as the teams traded punches. A Lonnie Walker IV-point play and some LeBron magic pulled the Lakers within three points with just under five minutes to play and set up a barnburner finish.

PJ Washington threw down a couple of thunderous hammers, but the Lakers went shot for shot with the Hornets. PJ Washington tipped in a miss to put the Hornets up five, but LeBron answered with a layup. LaMelo Ball drained a triple with 1:34 to play, but Patrick Beverly moonwalked into a three of his own 11 seconds later.

The Lakers scored four straight to tie the game up with 42 seconds left. Ball turned it over out of the timeout, but the Lakers got in their own way on the ensuing fastbreak and knocked the ball out of bounds. Terry Rozier missed a tough jumper on the Hornets ensuing possession, but Gordon Hayward outmuscled Dennis Schroder for the rebound. His putback went begging, but LeBron James was called for goaltending or basket interference for slapping the backboard with the shot on the rim.

Remember that foreshadowing in the first quarter? LeBron caught the inbound pass on the Lakers last gasp of a possession, but immediately upon receiving the pass, his shoe flew off his foot and he crumpled to the floor. The ball found Patrick Beverly, but he couldn’t cash in his jumper. PJ Washington grabbed the rebound and iced the game with free throws.

Washington tallied his 24 points in little spurts throughout the game in what was a strong all around performance. Ball added eight rebounds and eight assists to his 23 points while Rozier hit five triples as part of his 23 points. Kelly Oubre chipped in 19 points and Gordon Hayward poured in an efficient 15 points on nine shots.

The Lakers aren’t good, especially without Anthony Davis, but the Hornets will take the road win. The defense wasn’t great, but that’s been the case all season. They looked frisky on offense, shooting 55% from the field and tallying 30 assists.

The Hornets will have a couple days off to spend Christmas in LA before flying north to take on the Trail Blazers in Portland on Monday.