Hornets Push Lakers Before Falling at Home
Graham’s 4th-Quarter Heroics, Caleb Martin’s Career-Night Not Enough For Charlotte
All season long, Head Coach James Borrego has talked about the Hornets turning adversity into opportunity.
On Tuesday at Spectrum Center, Charlotte had one of its toughest tests of the season, as Terry Rozier (left knee tendinitis) and PJ Washington (right ankle sprain) joined LaMelo Ball (right wrist fracture), Gordon Hayward (right foot sprain) and Malik Monk (right ankle sprain) on the injury report, leaving Charlotte to replace 80+ points of offense against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Still, the Hornets refused to fold as the next-man-up mentality continues to run through this squad. Led by a career night from Caleb Martin, an impressive fourth-quarter performance from Devonte’ Graham and another solid effort from Jalen McDaniels, Charlotte pushed the Lakers to the wire before falling 101-93.
“I though we played hard. I thought we played well. We battled tonight. I’m proud of the guys. They battled tonight,” Borrego said of his team’s effort. “They did what they could. I thought they gave us a great effort. They competed. We had the ball, down one, and that’s all you can ask for in that situation. We just have to keep battling.”
Devonte’ Graham was able to shake off a slow start through the first three quarters (six points on 2-of-11 shooting from the field and 1-of-7 from long range) to connect on 5-of-8 shots in the fourth quarter as he racked up 13 points in the frame and finished with a team-high 19 points.
Caleb Martin stepped into the starting lineup and scored a season-high 17 points to points to go with a career-high 10 rebounds, as he recorded his first NBA double-double. He also added five assists and a steal for good measure.
Jalen McDaniels also continued his impressive run in the starting lineup for the Hornets, finishing with 16 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds, an assist and a steal. Bismack Biyombo also recorded his second double-double of the season, scoring 10 points while pulling down a game-high-tying 12 rebounds. Miles Bridges closed out all five Hornets starters scoring in double figures with 13 points and adding seven boards and three assists.
The Hornets got off to a quick start in this one, taking an 11-4 advantage in what would be a game of runs for both teams in the first half. It was the Lakers however, who held the 52-50 advantage at the half, thanks to Kyle Kuzma’s personal 8-0 run to close the half that capped Los Angeles’ 13-2 run to take the two-point advantage.
Charlotte’s offense struggled mightily out of the break and was outscored 24-16 in the third quarter as the Lakers appeared to be ready to break things open. But the Hornets were able to bounce back from their 27.3 percent (6-of-22) shooting and five turnovers in the third quarter to rally in the fourth behind Graham’s efforts.
When Graham’s three-pointer closed an 11-3 Charlotte run with 1:54 remaining, the Hornets appeared on the verge of completing the comeback. Unfortunately for the Hornets, Kuzma’s missed three-pointer on the other end didn’t turn into points for the Hornets as Andre Drummond was able to intercept a pass intended for Cody Zeller and Alex Caruso connected on trey for the Lakers to lock up the game.
Kuzma led all scorers with 24 points, while Dennis Schroder added 19.
Charlotte will wrap up its three-game homestand with the second half of a home back-to-back with the Cavaliers in town at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Spectrum Center.