The Hornets got off to a sloppy start while the Lakers got several jumpers to fall. It resulted in a very early nine point deficit and Steve Clifford timeout. The Hornets bounced back a bit from there, but they still had a number of ugly transition possessions that should have resulted in more points. They benefited from five Lakers turnovers and trailed by one after a low scoring first quarter.
The Hornets came up empty on their first eight possessions of the second quarter, which allowed the Lakers to score 14 straight points. That streak was finally broken by a Mason Plumlee and-1. He was followed by a pair of 3-pointers by PJ Washington. However, the Hornets couldn’t get the stops required to parlay those buckets into a comeback. The frustration got to LaMelo Ball, who had to go to the bench with his third foul late in the half. He was assessed a technical from the bench the next time the ball was in front of the Hornets bench, presumably because he disagreed with a foul called on the Hornets. Dennis Smith marked his return with five points late, but it was undone by four straight points from the Lakers in the final 2.5 seconds of the half. After their last second bucket, Austin Reaves stole an ill advised inbound pass from PJ Washington and hit a short jumper at the buzzer to put the Lakers up 15 at the half.
LeBron James, who dominated the second quarter with 15 points, picked up where he left off with nine points through three and a half minutes of the third quarter. His and-1 put the Lakers up 24. The Hornets responded with a bit of a run to threaten single digits with their deficit, but they couldn’t string together enough stops to get over the hump. Kendrick Nunn hit a three in the final seconds to put the Lakers up 18 heading into the fourth quarter.
Gordon Hayward found Mark Williams with a pocket pass for a dunk to start the fourth quarter. Dennis Smith Jr. had a highlight missed dunk over LeBron James and then Mark Williams had a nice defensive possession forcing LeBron into a one footed fallaway 3-pointer. His free throws pulled the Hornets within single digits after a 10-1 run. That was followed by dueling Dennises, who traded baskets and were assessed a double technical foul for chirping at each other. LaMelo Ball attacked the basket for a few layups to keep the Hornets alive. He and Terry Rozier combined for 28 points in the fourth and made the game interesting. Rozier did most of his damage in the game’s waning moments, when he hit a couple of 3-pointers and converted an and-1 while getting hit in the face.
The Hornets had what could have been a game changing stop in the final minute, but Mason Plumlee lost out on the rebound to Thomas Bryant, who dunked a dagger on the Hornets.
LeBron missed a free throw and Terry hit his third three of the quarter to keep the Hornets alive. The Hornets looked like they forced a James turnover on the ensuing inbound, but he was bailed out by a late whistle that the Hornets couldn’t challenge because they were out of timeouts. He hit the free throws, and then Rozier hit what would have been a 4-point play, but he stepped out of bounds just before catching Ball’s pass in the corner.
The Hornets played very well in the fourth quarter, but they didn’t play particularly well in the other three. There wasn’t one facet of the game that you could point to as why the Hornets lost. They just didn’t make quite as many shots as the Lakers, who got a huge 43 point performance from LeBron James.
Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball scored 27 and 24 points respectively while Mason Plumlee chipped in an 18-point, 14-rebound double double.
The Hornets will try to bounce back on Wednesday when Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies visit.