Charlotte Hornets wrapup: Thursday’s road game vs. Los Angeles Lakers

By Richard Walker

Notes and observations from Thursday’s 116-105 Hornets’ road loss to the Los Angeles Lakers that dropped Charlotte to 20-20 overall:

… Charlotte coach James Borrego was so disappointed with the team’s first half effort that he switched his starting lineup to start the second half and it prompted a rally that tied the score at 64 in the third quarter and had Charlotte within 86-85 early in the fourth quarter. “If we play with the competitive spirit like we did in the second half, we’ll have a chance,” said Borrego, who played a smaller lineup in the second half by replacing Cody Zeller with Miles Bridges.

… Much of the attention of the contest focused on the Los Angeles homecoming of Hornets’ guard LaMelo Ball, who played at nearby Chino Hills High School. Ball, the midseason favorite to win rookie of the year honors, didn’t disappoint with 26 points, five rebounds and seven assists. “LaMelo was excited to play tonight,” Borrego said. “You could feel it.”

… Ball scored 20 of his 26 points in the second half to lead the Hornets rally from a deficit of as many as 18 points in the first half. “It felt good but not too good because we didn’t get the win,” Ball said.

… LeBron James led the Lakers with 37 points, eight rebounds and six assists. James is now 46-6 all-time in games against the Hornets, including 4-0 with the Lakers.

… Terry Rozier added 20 points, five rebounds and three assists, P.J. Washington 18 points and eight rebounds, Gordon Hayward seven points, nine rebounds and 10 assists and Devonte’ Graham 12 points. Asked about Hayward’s offensive struggles – he was three of eight from the field – Borrego offered the following: “I thought he took what the defense gave him. I’ll try to get him more offensive opportunities. He had eight shots. That’s on me.”

… Charlotte is now 20-20 after 40 games, which marks the franchise’s best 40-game record since the 2016-17 season. The Hornets’ all-time best record after 40 games came in the 1994-95 season when they were 24-16. Since Charlotte returned to the NBA in the 2004-05 season, only once have the Hornets had a winning record after 40 games – 21-19 in the 2009-10 season.

What’s next: Charlotte continues the five-game, eight-day Western road trip at the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday at 10 p.m. The trip will continue Monday at San Antonio at 8:30 p.m. and Wednesday at Houston at 8 p.m. The Hornets’ next home game is next Friday against the Miami Heat.