LeBron James, LaMelo Ball Star in Duel as Lakers Take Down Hornets 116-105March 19, 2021
The Los Angeles Lakers won their fourth straight game by beating the Charlotte Hornets 116-105 on Thursday in Staples Center.
Lakers forward LeBron James' 37 points led all scorers. LaMelo Ball led the Charlotte Hornets with 26 points (20 in the second half).
The Lakers are just one-and-a-half games behind the Utah Jazz for first place in the Western Conference. They jumped the Phoenix Suns for second place as well.
The Hornets, who had won four of five games entering Thursday, fell to 20-20. They are tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics.
Hornets PG LaMelo Ball: 26 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds
Hornets G Terry Rozier: 20 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
Hornets F P.J. Washington: 18 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks
Lakers F LeBron James: 37 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists
Lakers G Dennis Schroder: 22 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds
Lakers F Kyle Kuzma: 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
LeBron Takes Over
LeBron James played through a sore left ankle that landed him on the pregame injury report, but he gutted through the ailment to dominate the Hornets on a night when the Lakers needed his scoring production.
James was exceptional everywhere on the floor, shooting 14-of-22 overall and 4-of-9 from three-point range. It was clear James was going to assert himself as a scorer early, dropping seven of the Lakers' first nine points. He ended up with 13 for the quarter thanks in part to a fast-break dunk and a layup following a spin move.
Defense turned into offense in the second quarter, with a steal turning into a lob that led to a James dunk:
He ended the first half with 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting.
The third quarter was not as prosperous for the Lakers, who saw their 15-point halftime lead completely evaporate. The Lakers started regaining momentum, though, in part because of excellent ball movement punctuated by James' pass to Kuzma for a corner jumper.
James' crisp passing was on display yet again in the fourth quarter when he threaded a needle to Alex Caruso.
He ended up with eight more points in the fourth to keep the Hornets at bay en route to another clutch performance.
LaMelo Stars in 2nd Half
The Hornets came up short Thursday, but there were plenty of encouraging takeaways. Namely, Ball was excellent in the second half after a cold opening to the game.
The Hornets trailed 60-45 at halftime. Ball entered the break with just six points on 2-of-8 shooting, but it was all LaMelo afterward.
Thanks partially to his efforts, Charlotte came all the way back from an 18-point second-quarter deficit, tying the game at 64 following this Ball layup.
That capped a personal 6-0 run.
The Lakers pulled away yet again, but the Hornets responded, with Ball nailing a big three to bring his team within 86-85.
He took care of business often in the second half, including a step-back over James and a killer crossover that led to a circus shot for two.
Ball also frequently found his teammates, slicing into the lane and hitting center Bismack Biyombo for two:
Ball has been nothing short of sensational ever since entering the starting lineup on Feb. 1, and Charlotte has gone 11-9 in that stretch to get into postseason contention.
Credit goes to Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier (among others) for their work, but Ball's presence has been the key to the Hornets moving in the right direction.
The Lakers will welcome the Atlanta Hawks, who have won seven straight games, into Staples Center on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Charlotte will also be playing in Staples Center on Saturday, but the Hornets will be facing the Clippers at 10 p.m.