Los Angeles can rejoice, as the Lakers were able to ride the strong play of off-season additions Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin to a 107-92 victory.
The Lakers struggled throughout the first half, shooting 39.5% and missing all 8 of the three-pointers they took. Charlotte let them hang around by shooting only slightly better and sending the Lakers to the free throw line 10 times (the Hornets took 3 FTs), then went on a 14-6 run in the last three minutes of the half to pull away.
Just as it looked like the Lakers would be going through the motions on the way to their sixth consecutive loss to begin the season, the team exploded, hitting four three-pointers en route to a 34-13 third quarter. Boozer had 10 of his 16 points in the period, leading a 16-1 Lakers run to take 67-59 lead, punctuated by back-to-back three-pointers by Kobe Bryant and Lin. Their strong play in the period had Los Angeles taking a 76-64 lead into the fourth quarter. Despite some old-school post up wizardry from Al Jefferson, who finished the night with 23 points on 10-23 shooting, the Lakers were able to close out the game and earn their first victory of the young season. Now Charles Barkley doesn't have to starve.
Lin had a good night, scoring 21 points on 8-12 shooting including 3 three-pointers to go along with his 7 assists . This was a huge boon for the team because Bryant was hounded into 7-20 shooting (for 21 points), including a missed first quarter dunk, by Michael Kidd Gilchrist, who played excellent defense on the future Hall of Famer, not biting on any of his pump fakes or ceding any ground in the post. Jordan Hill continued his Nowitzki-ish hot streak from mid-range, chipping in 12 points.
Considering the Lakers mostly rode a hot shooting third quarter to victory, it will certainly be interesting to see how much of this success will be sustainable going forward, but for tonight it would be understandable if fans just wanted to bask in the victory.