A pair of teams with defensive issues to solve will meet Friday when the Los Angeles Lakers play host to the Charlotte Hornets.
The Lakers gave up 95 shot attempts Wednesday and were overwhelmed in a 134-120 road defeat to the Sacramento Kings, unable to overcome the third-highest point total they have allowed all season.
The Hornets will enter off a 126-105 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers. While Charlotte did force Los Angeles into 27 turnovers, they watched their opponent shoot 50.6 percent from the field and fell behind by 36 points during the first half.
The Lakers are finding life without Anthony Davis to be just as hard as expected. The star forward will be out into January with a foot injury. Los Angeles also was without Russell Westbrook (foot) and Austin Reaves (ankle) on Wednesday.
LeBron James had 31 points, 11 assists and six rebounds, but his one-man show could only go so far with the Kings collecting seven more rebounds and making 17 3-pointers.
“These guys got to be ready to step up and make plays, you know?” Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “You can’t hide behind LeBron. LeBron’s going to be LeBron, going to be there for us. Whenever he’s available, he’s going to be out there, trying to play winning basketball. He needs help.”
Lonnie Walker IV was able to add 19 points, and Dennis Schroder had 18.
“We’re already a team without a lot of length, not a lot of size and you lose a 6-11 guy with a 7-6 wingspan. … I mean, it’s self-explanatory,” James said. “It’s not like it’s rocket science.”
The Hornets struggled early with their transition defense in the first half against the Clippers and trailed 33-13 just over 10 minutes into Wednesday’s game. The deficit reached 71-35 with 2:52 remaining before halftime.
The Hornets did put together a 34-point third quarter, as the Clippers’ turnovers mounted, and cut the deficit to 104-90 with 8:09 remaining before an 8-0 run by the Clippers put away the victory.
“We had it to 14 and should have gotten a stop,” Hornets head coach Steve Clifford said. “… We go down and miss a shot, they make an open 3 and all of a sudden it’s 19 again.
“(A deficit of) 30 in the first half in this league is doable. That doesn’t happen every night, but you have plenty of time. Those are things that are crushing. It’s 14 and you have the chance to win the game. You can’t do stuff like that.”
LaMelo Ball finished with his first triple-double of the season with 25 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in his homecoming. A native of nearby Chino Hills, Ball recorded his second career triple-double in Los Angeles after he delivered 25 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists against the Lakers last season.
In eight games this season after recovering from an ankle injury, Ball has averaged 23.4 points with 4.4 rebounds and eight assists, while shooting a career-best 44.5 percent from the floor and 38.9 percent 3-point range.
Charlotte’s Terry Rozier is averaging 20.9 points per game but is out with a hip injury. Kelly Oubre Jr. is scoring 20.8 points per game for the Hornets.
In his 20th NBA season, James is scoring 27.1 points per game with 8.4 rebounds and 6.7 assists for the Lakers.
–Field Level Media