Lakers Blow Out Hornets Behind LeBron James, Lonzo Ball Triple-Doubles

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2018

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 15:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers goes to the basket against the Charlotte Hornets on December 15, 2018 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice:  Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

LeBron James and Lonzo Ball each had triple-doubles to help the Los Angeles Lakers earned a 128-100 win over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday.

James did most of his damage in the first half at the Spectrum Center while finishing with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists. Ball followed suit with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to go with his five steals as the teammates reached rare territory.

The Lakers (18-11) bounced back from their disappointing loss to the Houston Rockets on Thursday and have now won seven of their last nine games.

Kemba Walker finished with just four points as the Hornets fell to 14-15 on the season.

     

Aggressive Pace Will Pay Off for Lakers as Chemistry Improves

The Lakers got off to a slow start this season, and some were calling for head coach Luke Walton to be fired after the 2-5 start. However, the system he brought from the Golden State Warriors wasn't working because the players weren't jelling.

Although this team still has a long way to go, they looked like the Warriors at times Saturday night.

Los Angeles was looking to attack every time it got the ball, leading to some fun fast breaks:

James also had his biggest dunk of the night after catching his opponent sleeping:

JaVale McGee was also rewarded for running the floor, putting together one of his best efforts of the season with 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

The Lakers haven't been afraid to push the tempo this season, entering the game ranking fifth in the NBA in average pace, per Basketball Reference. However, this has only led to the 16th best offensive in adjusted rating.

Still, this performance showed that the game plan will work if the team sticks with it.

Los Angeles looked comfortable running up and down the court, and more importantly, the team passed the ball extremely well with 34 assists on 49 field goals. These numbers and the overall production will continue to improve as the players get more comfortable with each other on the court.

Chemistry was always expected to be a problem early with the addition of James as well as numerous other veterans to the rotation, but the Lakers look to have hit a turning point and could be very dangerous going forward.

    

Hornets Lack Depth to Handle Kemba Walker's Shooting Slump

Few players in the NBA are as important to their teams as Walker.

This hasn't been a problem when things are going well for the guard, who is coming off two straight All-Star selections. He also entered the day averaging 25.6 points per game, which would be a career high, to keep the Hornets in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt.

However, he hasn't been nearly as impressive over the past few weeks.

The 28-year-old shot just 34.3 percent from the field in his first six games of December, failing to reach 50 percent in any game. These problems continued Saturday, as Walker finished with just four points on 2-of-13 shooting.

He was minus-28 on the court in 25 minutes of what was arguably one of the worst games of his career.

While you won't expect Walker to be this bad every night, his struggles show how punchless the Hornets are without a big effort from their star player.

Jeremy Lamb, Malik Monk and Miles Bridges are all capable of having a big night, but there isn't enough offensive talent to pick up the slack when needed. This isn't a good sign for the Hornets going forward as they hope to remain above .500.

Walker better wake up soon and get back to carrying this team, or Charlotte must find some outside additions to improve the team's scoring depth.

     

What's Next?

The Lakers continue their four-game road trip Sunday with a matchup against the Washington Wizards, who snagged Trevor Ariza in a trade Saturday before Los Angeles could find a deal, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Hornets will take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.

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