The first half was rough for the Lakers, even though they ended it with the lead. The Hornets, who have struggled to get consistent production from their big men all season, outscored the Lakers in the paint 36-18 in the first half. The Lakers couldn’t do anything with their size and skill advantage at the center position, either, shooting better from 3-point range (9-20) than they did from inside the 3-point line (9-21) over the first two quarters.
Andre Drummond was held scoreless in the first half. He ended the game with 4 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals and a team-worst plus-minus of -12.
The third quarter was much better for Los Angeles, particularly on the defensive end. After allowing the Hornets to score 22 and 28 in the first and second quarters, respectively, the Lakers held the Hornets to 16 points in the third.
Alex Caruso was at the center of everything they were able to defensively, and he hit a few big 3-pointers on offense, including the dagger in the fourth quarter. He ended the night with 13 points on 4-6 shooting from the field and 3-5 shooting from behind the 3-point line and game-best plus-minus of +17. It was the best game he’s had in a while.
Kyle Kuzma also had a bounce-back game, cracking the 20-point mark for the first time since April 2. He didn’t have the most efficient night, but the Lakers needed all 24 of his points to get the win. Plus, he was one of only two starters to finish with a positive plus-minus. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was the other.
With a win over the Hornets on Tuesday, the Lakers ended their seven-game road trip with a record of 4-3. They’ll head back home to take on the Boston Celtics at Staples Center — their first game with fans! — on Thursday night.