Anthony Davis rebounded from a rough-shooting start to finish with 32 points on 13-25 shooting and Carmelo Anthony continued to run Staples Center with 29 points off the bench, but the Lakers still managed to blow a double-digit lead in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and needed overtime to beat the Charlotte Hornets, 126-123.
After subbing in for a struggling Russell Westbrook with the Lakers down seven midway through the third period, Rajon Rondo came in and helped power a 24-10 run to close the quarter, as Davis finally got into a rhythm and Anthony sunk two of his seven threes on the night.
The Lakers got an added boost at the end of the quarter when Melo nearly lost his balance on the inbounds play but somehow got the ball to Malik Monk, who drained a 41-foot buzzer-beater from halfcourt against his old team.
Unfortunately for the Lakers, Rondo would ultimately be ejected early in the fourth quarter after being called for a Flagrant 2 foul on Terry Rozier. That meant that Westbrook returned as the Lakers’ only eligible point guard, and though he finally secured his first triple-double as a Laker at 17 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists, he also had seven turnovers and was a -17 on the night, letting the Hornets back into the game late.
The offense clearly hummed better with Rondo in the game than with Westbrook, and although Rondo finished with the ludicrous stat line of 0 points, 12 minutes, 8 assists and one flagrant, it’s hard to imagine the Lakers collapsing quite as dramatically if he had been able to stay on the court for a tad longer.
The Lakers also lost their cool late in the fourth when Anthony and Westbrook were both handed back-to-back technicals for arguing a call, allowing the Hornets to score five points on a single possession to help make up their late deficit. Westbrook then turned the ball over three times over the next few possessions and missed a free throw that would have potentially iced the game. The Hornets tied it on a Miles Bridges three-pointer, and Davis missed a chance for a game-winner on the ensuing possession.
But the Lakers regained their composure in overtime as Davis completely took over, hitting a step-back jumper, a baseline turnaround and blocking two shots on the Hornets’ final possessions. Even though he was throwing up during the third quarter and clearly feeling the cold he’s been dealing with for a few days, he wasn’t going to let the Lakers lose this one. The Lakers went up for good when Anthony hit his seventh three-pointer of the night, sending the Staples Center crowd into a frenzy.
Though the LeBron James-less Lakers’ flaws were still on full display, getting a win against a Hornets team with a dangerous young core can hopefully provide the momentum boost this squad desperately needs, as the victory moves L.A. back over .500, and 6-5 on the season. We’ll see if they can keep this going when they host a very good Miami Heat team on Wednesday, with tip-off at 7:30 p.m. PT from Staples Center.