The Los Angeles Lakers fell 134-130 to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night after a third-quarter collapse where the Hornets went on a 21-5 run to start the second half and a heartbreaking fourth-quarter comeback that fell just short. Charlotte had a balanced attack with six players in double digits and P.J. Washington led all Hornets with 24 points. For the Lakers, Austin Reaves was spectacular — scoring 20 points off the bench — and LeBron James led the way with 34 in the defeat. The Lakers kept things interesting with a few runs late in the fourth but ultimately fell short and are now 13-19 and on a three-game losing streak.
Things started well for the Lakers in the first, James started red-hot, scoring six of the team’s first nine points and Reaves looked great. He had a beautiful shimmy and floater over Ball and hit a nice corner three late in the first. Before you knew it, the Lakers had a four-point lead and control of the game after one.
Unfortunately, they gave that control away with an abysmal defensive display in the second. The Lakers gave up 40 points to the Hornets, including a 5-0 run to start the quarter. L.A regained composure and stayed in the game thanks to the trio of James, Russell Westbrook and Reaves scoring all baskets in the final three minutes to keep the game deadlocked at 67.
Pretty sure that’s 4 straight dunks for the Hornets. For reference, that’s bad.— Aaron Larsuel (@AaronLarsuel) December 24, 2022
The Lakers third-quarter woes this season have been well-documented, but tonight was one for the ages. A 10-0 run turned into a 21-5 run and gave the Hornets the lead and enough of a cushion to withstand any sort of run. Russ and Reaves contributed six points in the quarter to give the purple and gold a fighting chance in the fourth down by ten.
The final quarter was the best basketball the Lakers played all night. LeBron went nuclear, scoring 18 points, Russ was bringing the energy and avoiding turnovers and even Patrick Beverley was hitting big threes in the final two minutes to keep the Lakers in the game.
With the score tied at 130 with 0:32 seconds left, the Lakers forced a turnover and had a fastbreak opportunity to take the lead and potentially win, but a bad Reaves pass gave the ball back to Charlotte. After a missed Terry Rozier three, Gordon Hayward converts on the layup and secures the win. The Lakers had one more chance but a LeBron tumble turned into a Dennis Schröder corner three that just missed and added another tough loss in an even tougher season.
The Lakers will have to get over this one quickly as they embark on a five-game road trip starting on Christmas Day against the Dallas Mavericks. At 13-19, losing three straight, and with Anthony Davis out indefinitely — the road ahead looks bleak.