There are three guarantees in life: death, taxes and LeBron James getting up to play highly-touted rookies. Last year, it was Zion Williamson that got the best that James had to offer. On Thursday, when the Charlotte Hornets played the Los Angeles Lakers for the first time this season, it was LaMelo Ball.
In the 36:30 that James played on Thursday, he scored 37 points on an efficient 14-22 shooting from the field and tallied 8 rebounds, 6 assists, a block and a steal. James has had stat lines like that on several occasions this season, but he definitely had an extra pep in his step on Thursday as the Lakers took care of business in a 116-105 win.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Lakers, though. They let the Hornets creep back into the game in the third quarter after leading by as much as 18 points. Getting out to big leads is fun, but not as fun as holding them.
Overall, though, it was another solid outing for a team that’s still missing two starters in Anthony Davis and Marc Gasol. And the best part? — when those two return, this exciting bench unit is unlikely to be changed because Markieff Morris and Damian Jones have been starting at the 4 and 5, respectively. In other words, there’s another gear that the Lakers can get to, which is crazy when you consider the fact that they’re in the midst of a four-game winning streak.
With a win against the Hornets — their fourth in a row! — the Lakers moved past the Phoenix Suns, who lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday, to re-take the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. They’re also only 1.5 games back of the Utah Jazz, who lost to the Washington Wizards on Thursday, for the No. 1 seed.
The Lakers will look to build on their momentum when they host the Atlanta Hawks at Staples Center on Saturday.