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Players Grades: Lakers vs. Hornets

Assessing every Lakers player’s performance from the team’s 133-112 win over the Hornets.

Charlotte Hornets v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

While the Lakers weren’t necessarily yearning for a win as they were last week heading into the game against the Thunder, the type of performance they had on Thursday against the Hornets was one that was sorely needed.

After a back-and-forth first half after a fast Charlotte start, the Lakers blew the game wide open in the third quarter, ironically without LeBron James or Anthony Davis on the floor. Riding a bench unit led Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell, the hosts won going away and did it in style as well.

The recent run of games haven’t had a lot of fun, so that alone was a welcome sight against Charlotte.

So, let’s grade the win. As always, grades are based on expectations for each player. A “B” grade represents the average performance for that player.

Rui Hachimura

28 minutes, 17 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 7-12 FG, 0-1 3PT, 3-3 FT, +34

Obviously, the number that jumps out here is the obscene +34 he finished after being part of that third-quarter run that blew the game open. Stepping into the starting lineup as an unexpected choice, Rui punished the smaller Hornets team.

Outside of a Boston game in which he got himself in good spots but couldn’t knock down shots, Rui is really starting to contribute more consistently, whether starting or coming off the bench.

Grade: B+

Jarred Vanderbilt

24 minutes, 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 3-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, +2

This felt like one of the first games this season that Vando looked like the old Vando. He struggled at times defensively but, otherwise, he did a bit of everything and was all over the court.

While there are lots of things that have been discussed in recent games, Vanderbilt finding his footing — literally and figuratively — and becoming someone who can reliably play big minutes again is huge for this Lakers team.

Also, he hit his first three of the season. Now here’s to many more!

Grade: B

Anthony Davis

26 minutes, 26 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 4 blocks, 11-19 FG, 0-1 3PT, 4-4 FT, +6

Quick, someone tell me: is scoring a point per minute good?

He wasn’t needed as much on Thursday and that’s a very good thing. Even then, he was nearly flirting with the idea of a 5x5 in one of his most complete games of the season. And, he looked awfully spry after a couple days off as well.

Grade: A-

Taurean Prince

23 minutes, 3 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 1-7 FG, 1-4 3PT, +2

Prince might have struggled with his jumper, but he did a lot of other things on the night. When Vando is available and starting alongside him, it slots Prince more appropriately defensively.

On Thursday, he was active on that end and found openings offensively. Similar to Rui against Boston, if the process is good, the results will come.

Grade: B-

LeBron James

25 minutes, 17 points, 11 assists, 4 rebounds, 7-13 FG, 2-5 3PT, 1-1 FT, +1

One of the positives of the lineup change is the ball is in LeBron’s hands more. I don’t think that means he needs to create everything himself, but instead making the right passes as he did on Thursday.

It seems to have led to more AD-Bron pick and rolls, which is a huge positive. He found Rui a number of times in mismatches. And he’s always going to be able to find guys on skip passes. If the Lakers can knock down shots, which they did in the third quarter, it makes things easier on that end of the floor.

As a team, the Lakers are sharing the ball more with this lineup change. They set their season-high in assists against OKC and then did it again on Thursday.

I’m still unsure about the Cam Reddish version of this lineup, but it sure has led to some strong LeBron showings and more ball movement.

Grade: B+

D’Angelo Russell

29 minutes, 16 points, 9 assists, 3 rebounds, 5-10 FG, 4-7 3PT, 2-2 FT, +18

Much like Reaves’ “realignment” to the bench didn’t really negatively impact him, the same can be said for Russell. In the three games since he’s been benc...err realigned, he’s shooting 14-25 from the field 7-14 from the 3-point line with 18 assists to just four turnovers.

One of the other bright spots is that a Reaves-Russell pairing is a lot more tenable against bench units and the pair are finding success together again.

Grade: A

Austin Reaves

24 minutes, 16 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 6-8 FG, 2-3 3PT, 2-2 FT, +9

I think I speak for most Lakers fans that I was quite surprised Reaves didn’t start this game. You could have been rest assured by the fact Darvin Ham said pregame that Reaves would play a “boatload” of minutes, but then he got into foul trouble in the first half and played just eight minutes.

But without the fouls in the second half, he played 15 minutes and had a huge role in blowing this game open, regardless if he officially only had eight points and three assists. Good things happen when he’s on the court, and there’s still a pretty strong argument to stop overthinking things and put him in the starting lineup, but that’s another article for another day.

Grade: B+

Max Christie

24 minutes, 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 blocks, 3-4 FG, 2-3 3PT, 2-2 FT, +18

From not being in the rotation at all to 24 minutes, just the sixth time this season he’s played that many minutes. And they were warranted and earned!

This was one of Christie’s best showings since maybe the Cleveland game that earned him lots of praise a month ago. He had a number of great plays defensively against Rozier and was a big part of the team’s success offensively in the third quarter.

One area that he also excels at is his rebounding. When the Lakers went to a zone, Christie was one of the low men and did a great job of clearing the boards, something he’s shown a great knack for in his brief career.

Grade: A-

Christian Wood

23 minutes, 9 points, 5 rebounds 4 assists, 1 block, 3-4 FG, 3-3 3PT, +19

Well, it seems as though Jaxson Hayes’ performance against Boston was enough for Ham to be done with him for now as well. And Wood stepped in and played well.

There were some warning signs of what got him benched in the first place, particularly defensively. And if the Lakers are going to do a heavy switching scheme — which they didn’t as much on Thursday — then Wood probably isn’t the guy to play.

But so long as his outside shot is falling, it’s going to be really hard to keep him off the floor. Ride the hot hand if it’s there right now and hope he doesn’t go into another shooting slump.

Grade: A-

Jalen Hood-Schifino, Jaxson Hayes

Two guys who played only in garbage time, so I’m not going to grade them. JHS knocked down a mid-range jumper that’s his bread and butter while Jaxson Hayes turned into Wilt Chamberlain in his seven minutes on the court.

Thursday’s inactives: Cam Reddish, D’Moi Hodge, Maxwell Lewis, Alex Fudge, Colin Castleton, Gabe Vincent

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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