The Los Angeles Lakers stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James seamlessly alternated control in the 120-101 home victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Oct. 27.
L.A. finished with three starters and three reserves in double-figure during a game that was close until the fourth. The Lake Show move to 2-1 after outscoring Charlotte 74-44 in points in the paint on Sunday.
However, Davis’ strong start and LeBron’s sudden takeover in the final 12 minutes secured a second-consecutive win in the Lakers’ young 2019-20 season.
“That’s what we have the ability to do.” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said about LeBron deferring to Davis early before taking over in the fourth. “I thought he was great trying to make the right play every time down and in the second half he got more aggressive trying to score the basketball.”
Vogel told the media both his All-Stars showed what they can do as a tandem by picking their spots to be aggressive and sharing the load offensive.
LeBron concluded the game with 20 points, 12 assists and six rebounds but he entered the fourth quarter with only six points. His fourth quarter eruption for 14 points helped the Lakers stretch their lead as high as 20 points, despite the team going back and forth in a battle with the Hornets most of the game.
James came out initially as an aggressive playmaker with five assists and zero points in the first, while Davis paired 16 points with five rebounds. A.D. finished with 29 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks including 3-for-5 from three-point range.
Vogel called Davis’ versatility also his best asset after Davis shouldered the load on both ends through most of the game.
“I think this is probably the best representation that our team, our fanbase has seen from him [Davis] in a Lakers uniform.” Vogel said at the post game press conference.
Davis told the media teams have to pick their poison when he and James are both playing well and on the floor at the same time. Davis also said the players around them can also make plays for themselves or others.
“When you got two guys who are very aggressive and score the basketball who also are willing passers,” Davis said after the duo’s big performance. “It makes our team that much more dynamic.”
Believing in Dwight
One of those players who made plays for himself and others was Lakers center Dwight Howard.
“We felt like everyone else was writing him off, we feel like could give him a great opportunity,” James said after Howard’s big performance versus the Hornets. “We believe in him,”
The Lakers center finished with a double-double versus the team he played 81 games for during the 2017-18 season. Howard made all eight of his field goal attempts while registering 16 points, 10 assists and four block shots.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything but doing whatever I can to help the team win and keep the crowd energized,” Howard said.
The 33-year-old received several surprising ovations after highlights throughout the game including when he caught a reverse alley oop from Danny Green. Howard seemingly came out of his shell for the first time in his second stint with the Lakers.
“A performance like that certainly makes the case,” Vogel said about potentially looking to Dwight for an expanded role, potentially as starting center.
Vogel also said Howard had a hell of a night and looked truly dominate on defense seemingly getting every rebound. The Lakers coach added he will evaluate the team’s the starting lineup after every game because it is early and this team has a lot of versatility.
Otherwise, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope also came up big off the bench. K.C.P. scored 10 points the day his coach defended him for going a combined 0-for-9 from the field through the team’s first two games.
Caldwell-Pope made a nice steal and got a goal-tending call on a nice reverse layup in the second quarter. A few moments later he hit a three point shot off a Dwight long rebound and kick-out which gave the Lakers a seven point lead.
Charlotte would eventually tie it up at 39 with about eight minutes left. Caldwell-Pope hit another layup and then found Howard for an alley oop and a Lakers four point lead.
Alex Caruso provided a spark for the team in the second half. He hit a three in third quarter as well as converted a steal and one-handed transition slam to give the Lakers a nine point lead early in the forth. Quinn Cook helped the team stretch the floor too with 12 points on 5-for-9 shooting, including 2-for-4 from deep.
The Young Hornets
As for Charlotte, they came out strong leading the Lakers as much as nine in the first quarter. The Hornets started the game with a three from Cody Zeller. Zeller finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds as well as some bruises from battling the Lakers’ big men.
“Good teams pull away,” Zeller told the media after his team’s loss. “They go so much talent and we have our hands full, so they kind of took over there in the fourth quarter.”
The lead changed 11 times through the first half and there were 10 ties in the contest until the Lakers pulled away in the second half.
“In the fourth quarter, [the Lakers] stepped out and boosted their intensity and we couldn’t make a shot but I think in general our guys competed.” Hornets head coach James Borrego said to the media.
Hornets rookie and No. 12 pick PJ Washington came into the game averaging 18.5 points and seven rebounds but he struggled in this game with eight points on 2-for-7 shooting.
“I thought it was great for him to have the experience to guard Anthony Davis [and] go against LeBron James.” Borrego said after his rookie’s performance. “This is all money in the bank for him. He’s only going to get better from here.”
Otherwise, Miles Bridges led Charlotte with 23 points and six rebounds. Fellow starter Terry Rozier added 19 points while Dwayne Bacon scored 15 as well.
More Game Notes
Rozier and Bridges both had seven in the first quarter while Zeller added 11. Charlotte lead by as much as nine just before the seven minute mark in the first quarter. It was this moment where Davis converted three dunks on consecutive Lakers possessions and cut the lead to 14-17. The Hornets still stuck around converting 7-of-7 free throws in the first quarter. They went 21-of-23 from the charity line for the night.
Quarter two featured more back and forth before finishing with a 63-62 advantage for the Lakers. Davis added another nine points in the second including a three-pointer that gave the Lakers a 50-47 advantage. P.J. Armstrong answered almost immediately for the Hornets. Quinn Cook made a quick three not long after but Charlotte clapped back again with a three from Bridges this time.
More back and forth occurred in the third. Nonetheless, Howard scored two of the Lakers final three field goals including the final possession to go up seven to end the third. Before that, Quinn found Davis trailing for a wide open, one-handed dunk in the middle of the paint. The Lakers scored on a Dwight hook shot before the Davis dunks.
In the fourth, James started heating up with a free throw trip just before the 10 minute mark in the fourth. On the next play, he found Dwight Hawrd for a cutting drunk. Then, Quinn Cook found him for a layup. and and-one that pushed the Lakers lead as high as 16. A few minutes later the Lakers led 101-82 thanks to a James three with 8:25 left.
Other highlights from James in the fourth included a powerful drive and with 3:12 left. Charlotte answered with a three but but James found his way back in the lane for his final dunk that made the game 113-96. The Hornets never recovered.
Now, L.A. will look to have a similar dominating performance at both ends on Oct. 29 versus a young Memphis Grizzlies team fresh off their first win. The Lakers are on a back-to-back winning steak after beating the Jazz this past Friday.
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