Clarkson Sizzles in Fourth Quarter, Leads Lakers to Win
Julius Randle set a rigid screen. Jordan Clarkson used it to attack. The Lakers scored.
And they scored. And they scored. And they scored. And they scored.
The Lakers knew Charlotte had no answer for the Clarkson-Randle pick-and-roll, so they just kept going back to it. In fact, that connection netted 14 points during a 26-8 fourth quarter run that won them game.
Clarkson scored 14 of his team-high 22 points in that final period, leading the Lakers to a 110-99 win over the Hornets.
“JC had maybe the best all-around quarter I’ve seen him play,” coach Luke Walton said. “They kept switching their defense up, and he just kept taking what the defense gave him. … That’s what you do as you mature in this league.”
Clarkson caught fire after Charlotte (9-16) took a three-point lead with nine minutes left.
The Lakers (10-15) then outscored their hosts by 18 points over the next seven minutes, with the two-man game of Clarkson and Randle accounting for six scoring plays.
The Lakers’ 2014 draft class connected on a highlight give-and-go dunk for Clarkson, but they did the majority of their damage by running the same high pick-and-roll over and over.
Clarkson was the primary scorer, making a layup, hook shot, 3-pointer, dunk and four free throws in this run.
He was so hot that Lonzo Ball (five points, nine assists) did not play in the fourth quarter, despite setting the pace for the Lakers’ season-high 28 fast-break points.
“JC came in (and) he was cooking tonight,” Ball said. “We were rolling with him, and I’m glad we did.”
According to Kyle Kuzma — who had 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds — the Lakers’ strategy with Clarkson and Randle revolved around exploiting Charlotte center Dwight Howard.
Howard, a Laker once upon a time, has three Defensive Player of the Year trophies on his shelf; but L.A. took the 32-year-old out of his comfort zone by “making him move his feet” in pick-and-rolls, per Kuzma.
While Clarkson (22 points, six assists in 27 minutes) and Randle (12 points) took advantage of Howard’s defensive foot speed, Brook Lopez stepped up on the other end.
Howard was a problem in the first half, scoring 15 points with only one turnover and one foul.
But Lopez (13 points, three 3-pointers) was a headache for Howard in the second half, holding him to six points, five turnovers and four fouls the rest of the way.
“Brook really took on the challenge of making it tough on Dwight,” Walton said. “Dwight killed us in the first half. To start the third quarter, Brook took that challenge on as far as making it tough for him; get some deflections, make him work for everything.”
Meanwhile, North Carolina native Brandon Ingram scored 18 points in his return to his home state.
Ingram’s slashing display bumped his scoring average to tops on the team and helped the Lakers win back-to-back contests to start their four-game road trip.
The Hornets were led by Kemba Walker (23 points) and Howard (21 points, 12 rebounds). … The game featured 19 lead changes. … The Lakers shot 50.6 percent from the field. … An audience of 19,320, including about 300 from Ingram’s hometown of Kinston, N.C., sold out Spectrum Center.