What looked like an absolute blowout in the Los Angeles Lakers favor turned into an absolute disaster of a 117-113 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. The Lakers scored an incredible 73 points in the first half, putting on a clinic of ball movement and perimeter shooting. That’s not how the story ended for the Lakers, though.
The purple and gold were orchestrated in Charlotte through the first half, as if an NBA 2K developer had control of the game and was going through demonstrations the meticulously programmed in-game controls. Everything was up to par, and the Lakers looked like an actual fluid NBA team — not just the kids piecing little bits together. The momentum was best personified when Larry Nance, Jr. drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer at the end of the first quarter to cap off a 41-point opening to the game.
The end of Nance, Jr.’s night, much like his team’s,might also be best fitting for how a random Tuesday night in North Carolina played out. Larry was forced to end his night early, asking to be taken out after suffering an undefined knee injury. X-rays came back negative immediately following teh game, but he will undergo an MRI to see if any other structural damage occurred.
Kemba Walker scored 15 of his game-high 28 points in the third quarter, working around the rim while the Lakers fell apart on both ends of the floor. Sticking to the number 15, the Hornets went on a 15-0 run as they took control of the game.
The Lakers snapped out of their sleep-walking phase near the end of the third after Nance, Jr.’s injury, with Julius Randle injecting some much needed energy and rim protection. Randle swatted away a career-high five shots on the night, and the Lakers latched onto a frenetic energy as they scrambled to save the good work they put in earlier in the night.
Jordan Clarkson connected on a career-high seven three-pointers, missing just two of his nine attempts from deep. He finished the night with 25 points. Nick Young’s hot shooting from Sunday in Cleveland carried forward as he made five of his 10 three-pointers.
It was to no avail, though, and instead of being able to appreciate some of their finest work of the season, their trip to Charlotte became one of the most disheartening losses of the year. They say that what goes up must come down, but watching it come crashing to the ground was painful.
Until Thursday, when the Miami Heat host the Lakers while they retire Shaq Diesel’s jersey.