LOS ANGELES — Despite Kobe Bryant putting together a vintage night with a game-high 23 points, the Los Angeles Lakers tied a franchise-best mark with their 10th straight loss falling 101-82 to the Charlotte Hornets.
The Hornets grabbed a midway through the first quarter with a 12-0 run to pull ahead 21-10. In the second quarter, Bryant scored 11 of his 15 first-half points that included three 3-pointers, but Charlotte countered with knocking down seven of their 11 three-pointers from beyond the arc with Marvin Williams being responsible for four of them.
The Hornets cruised in the second half stretching their lead to as many as 27 points behind a pair of double-doubles from Williams with 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Los Angeles struggled offensively hitting just 33.8 percent from the field while committing 15 turnovers. Jordan Clarkson finished with 13 points. Lou Williams scored 11 points. D’Angelo Russell had 10 points and six rebounds.
Here are five things we learned from Sunday night:
Bryant’s vintage night
After missing last game due to rest, Bryant was back in the lineup on Sunday night against the Hornets and posted a game-high 23 points on 8-of-18 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists.
It was a slow start offensive for Bryant missing his first five shots of the game but was active on the glass grabbing seven boards in the first quarter. He heated up in the second quarter knocking down all three of his field goals from beyond the arc in scoring 11 points.
He continued to be an offensive factor in the third quarter scoring eight points, however, his was night was finished after three quarters with the Hornets comfortably ahead in the final period. It was his 12th 20-plus point game this season and 17th time leading the team in scoring.
That said, the 18-time All-Star did achieve some history passed Peja Stojakovic for 12th most three-pointers made in NBA history.
Bryant’s production has been wildly inconsistent in his final season, especially in the month of January scoring in double figures just six times, and recording 15-plus points on only four occasions. This will likely continue as the season wears on as well as missing a game from time to time.
Walker entered Sunday’s game averaging a career-high 20.3 points, but he experienced a bad shooting night hitting just 3-of-14 shot attempts scoring 12 points. However, he did dish out a team-high six assists and grabbed seven rebounds.
Although it was a forgettable shooting performance from Walker that included hitting just two out of his first 11 shots, the fifth-year guard put together a solid all-around performance making an impact on the boards and dishing out assists.
All in all, it concludes what a was a strong month of January for Walker that included notching a franchise-record 52 points against the Utah Jazz. This was performance was part of an impressive week from the 25-year-old averaging 34.8 points on 44.6 percent shooting from the field, 6.0 assists, 6.0 rebounds, and 2.3 steals in four games that earned him Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors.
Randle’s quiet night
In his eighth game as the starter, Randle recorded a double-double in what was a horrendous team shooting performance racking up 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Randle was relatively quiet in the first half tallying just four points on 2-of-5 shooting and four rebounds. Things remained much of the same early in the second half with Bryant continuing to be the main offensive punch. (What did he do)
The 21-year-old did pick it up in the fourth quarter with the game out of hand posting six points and five rebounds. With the losses piling up, the second-year forward voiced his frustration.
“Everybody is frustrated, but all you can do is put your head down and keep working, and come back the next game,” Randle said. “That’s it.”
With the news that Larry Nance Jr. will likely sit out the rest of the games prior to the All-Star break, Randle will the chance to strengthen his case to be the team’s long-term starter and string together more productive games.
Clarkson’s scoring reliability
Clarkson extended his career-long streak of consecutive double-figure scoring games to 18 with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting with one assist.
The 23-year-old knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the first quarter. He added a pair of buckets in the second quarter and was one of two Lakers in double figures at the half. He was quiet in the second half scoring just three points.
Clarkson’s performance could be clumped in with much of the team’s overall performance playing behind for most of the game.
That said, he has recorded 10-plus points in 27 of his last 28 games. He has also led the team in scoring 12 times this season. All of this has equated to him being the most consistent scoring option for the Lakers in a downtrodden season.
Hornets hot from downtown
The Lakers entered the night as one of the worst defensive teams in the league, but one area they have been effective in is defending the 3-point line ranking 10th by forcing opponents to shoot 34.2 percent.
This was however not the case in the first half allowing Charlotte to knock down 10 three-pointers while shooting 52.4 percent that helped stretch their deficit to as many as 15 points in the second quarter.
Although the Hornets cooled off in the second hitting just two 3-pointers, their barrage in the first two quarters of play gave them enough of a cushion to take keep control throughout the second half and manage any type of surge by the Lakers.
“I think it’s just like winning. It becomes contagious,” Lakers head coach Bryon Scott said. “So when you’re losing games like we’re losing, that becomes contagious, too, because you don’t have the confidence at the end.”
Bob Garcia IV
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