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Lakers vs. Hornets Preview: L.A.’s role players need to step up

Anthony Davis can put up another monster performance against the Hornets, but it won’t matter unless he gets more from the Lakers’ supporting cast.

Los Angeles Lakers v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

After a rough loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Lakers will have less than 24 hours to recover before they tip-off again against the Charlotte Hornets. This will be a tough one for the purple and gold, not only due to the game being the second half of a road back-to-back, but also because they’re going up against a young and confident team that’s coming off a dominant, 32-point victory.

So, for the Lakers to be competitive on Friday, their sense of urgency and defense will have to be there. Let me especially stress the defense part of that equation, because it was practically non-existent against the Sixers. The Lakers can’t let that happen again, especially against a lethal offensive team like the Hornets, who are leading the league in points per game (114.9) and sitting third in offensive rating (112.7).

Aside from defense, it would be nice if L.A.’s role players show up this time. Outside of Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, nobody had more than 12 points on Friday. The Lakers shot an abysmal 20% from behind the 3-point line, and turned the ball over 17 times (with 11 coming in the first half alone).

In positive news, the Lakers might just have an advantage in the front court on Friday against a Hornets team missing Gordon Hayward.

L.A. should find a way to repeatedly put Mason Plumlee in ball screens and attack the paint like they’ve done in the past. They can’t allow the Hornets to outshoot them from downtown, and — more importantly — outscore them inside the paint. Another way the Lakers can get more quality shots is to run more flare screens for guys like Malik Monk or Carmelo Anthony. Or even more pick-and-roll screen coverages with Westbrook and Davis, a set that has worked in the past. Or, just in general, get the team moving and doing something other than just standing around on offense like they often did against the Sixers.

The Lakers have had three sets of back-to-back games this season, and are 1-2 on the second day of those games. Hopefully tired legs and poor shooting don’t catch up to them tomorrow, because their level of energy will heavily dictate the game once again. Because Davis can put up another monster, 31-point, 12-rebound and 4-block type of performance, but it will only lead to victory if he gets more from his supporting cast.

Notes and updates

  • LeBron James was not listed on the injury report prior to Thursday’s game, but was a late scratch due to a sore left knee. His status for Friday’s game against the Hornets remains in doubt, and he is officially day-to-day moving forward.
  • Anthony Davis hurt his right wrist in the first half vs. the Sixers. He was evaluated during halftime, but his X-rays came back negative and he should be good to go moving forward.
  • Kendrick Nunn (bone bruise) is still out.
  • Trevor Ariza, who was starting for the Lakers just last week, has received two straight DNPs. Whether this trend continues will be worth watching.
  • The Hornets will be without Gordon Hayward (health and safety protocols), Jalen McDaniels (ankle) on Friday.
  • Kelly Oubre (left ankle sprain) is also listed as questionable.
  • For news around the league, LeBron James was selected as this year’s Western Conference All-Star captain along with Kevin Durant (East). This is James’ 18th All-Star appearance in a row, and fifth time as team captain.

The Lakers and Hornets will tip-off at 4:30 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on Spectrum Sportsnet locally, and ESPN nationally.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani.