In their last home game of 2023, the Los Angeles Lakers faced off against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday evening. Determined to bounce back from their disappointing Christmas Day loss to the Boston Celtics, the Lakers came out strong and secured a 133-112 victory, bringing their season record to 17-15.
To adapt to Cam Reddish’s groin injury, Darvin Ham opted for a massive starting lineup that included Rui Hachimura alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Taurean Prince. Hachimura wasted no time initiating the scoring with a steal and a dunk in transition. Davis also had a quick start, showcasing his effortless skills with some impressive baskets, including a poster dunk on Miles Bridges.
Despite James’ early triple and impressive deep passes from Terry Rozier and Bridges, the Lakers started to cool down while the Hornets maintained their hot shooting, extending their lead to nine. However, the Lakers’ bench players D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves stepped up and provided crucial offense, reducing the deficit to 31-28 in the first half.
In the second period, the Lakers rallied and tied the game with Max Christie sinking a three-pointer and Hachimura completing a three-point play. The Hornets responded with a 9-0 run, but Davis stepped up with a block and a jumper to get the Lakers back on track. He also added another poster dunk, but unfortunately received a technical foul for taunting. James assisted Davis with an alley-oop dunk to close out the half, giving the Lakers a slim 58-57 advantage as they headed into the locker room.
The third quarter saw James and Bridges taking charge for their respective teams. However, the Lakers gradually created some separation as James and Davis dominated inside and extended their lead to double digits. Despite Davis encountering foul trouble and being substituted, the Lakers finished the quarter strong with the help of Russell and Reaves, increasing their lead to 99-80 going into the fourth quarter.
With Christian Wood seizing the opportunity to contribute with a three-pointer to start the final quarter, the Lakers continued to build on their lead. Thanks to the effective play of their bench, James and Davis were able to rest and recover in the fourth quarter without needing to re-enter the game.
The crowd was energized by the consistent scoring abilities of Russell and Reaves, as the Lakers cruised to a comfortable victory.