The Lakers withstood a late rally from the Hornets on Monday, beating them 124-118 on the road to earn their third straight win. They finish the Grammy trip with a 4-2 record and are now two games above .500 on the season.
D’Angelo Russell’s scoring skyrocketed on Monday after a pair of mediocre offensive games. He ended the game with 28 points on 10-21 shooting overall and 5-12 shooting from deep.
Anthony Davis earned his second triple-double of the season with 26 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists and LeBron James had an easy-going night with a pair of highlight dunks and 26 points and seven assists. Austin Reaves scored just nine points but had 11 assists.
The Lakers sleepwalked through the opening minutes, trailing 11-4 thanks to a few buckets from Ish Smith, who relishes playing against Los Angeles. The Lakers got it together with a 9-2 run and never lost control, even if things got extremely unnecessarily hairy in the fourth.
Taurean Prince scored a season-high 16 points last game versus the Knicks and started off well on Monday, again coming off the bench and scoring five points in the opening frame.
Charlotte went cold from the field while L.A. shot 63% after the first quarter and led by eight.
With Jarred Vanderbilt out at least 3-4 weeks, players like Max Christie will have to take on his defensive responsibilities and playing time. Christie did a good job in the second quarter attacking the basket, blocking P.J. Washington and forcing Miles Bridges into a turnover.
Losing a player like Vanderbilt for an extended period of time is a bad thing, but the development of Christie could be a silver lining.
James made sure the Lakers kept the energy up throughout the half. He brought down the house with a highlight slam on Nick Richards and followed that up with another driving dunk to give the Lakers a 13-point advantage midway through the second quarter.
The Lakers' best player in the first half, though, wasn’t James or All-Star reserve Davis; it was Russell. He had 22 points on 8-14 shooting. The Lakers' 74 points in the first half tied the season high and, with a 16-point lead, it was clear this game was all but over before the third quarter began.
The Hornets went on a quick run to start the third, but after a timeout by the Lakers, they came out roaring and stalled any type of comeback happening for Charlotte in the third.
Reaves had a really nice steal and lob to Rui Hachimura midway through the third and Davis officially earned his triple-double off an impressive dime to Christian Wood with three minutes and change left in the quarter.
The Hornets hit three 3-pointers to pull within 14 points and force the Lakers to at least play their starters during the opening minutes of the fourth.
With the opportunity to end the game early or play with their food, the Lakers chose the latter. Charlotte got within 10 and Russell hit a huge three to stop the bleeding and get the lead back up to 13.
Bridges was feeling it in the fourth part of a 41-point night for him and kept the Hornets in the game, getting the deficit down to single digits midway through the fourth.
Charlotte got within four and was officially very much in the game. Davis converted on a dunk and James got three points the hard way to keep the Lakers in front.
The Hornets had one more chance to pull off an incredible upset, but after Davis blocked Bridges, Reaves grabbed the rebound and sealed the game at the free-throw line.
This is one of the rare instances where the Lakers beat a team they were supposed to. The Hornets are struggling and missing key players like LaMelo Ball, but we’ve seen the Lakers lose to poor teams constantly this season. It’s nice to see them earn a win and finish a road trip on a high note....even if it got close late
The Lakers' next matchup will be at home on Feb. 8 against the defending champion Denver Nuggets. It’s part of a three-part trifecta, including the trade deadline happening at 12 p.m. PDT and the Kobe statue unveiling occurring at 3 p.m. PDT.
So buckle up for an eventful Thursday in Laker Land.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.