Austin Reaves and Carmelo Anthony

Three Things to Know: Lakers at Hornets - 1/28/22

by Mike Trudell

The Lakers (24-25) are in Charlotte (27-22) to take on the Hornets on the second night of a back-to-back, following a Thursday evening loss at Philly. The contest tips at 4:30 p.m. Pacific on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know about the matchup:

A major bright spot in L.A.’s loss to the Sixers was a terrific all-around performance from Anthony Davis, who was impressive in just his second game back after 17 games missed to a left MCL sprain. AD made 14 of his 21 shots for 31 points, plus 12 boards, four blocks, two steals and one assist in 33 minutes.

“I thought he played really well,” said Frank Vogel. “It was great to see him get a rhythm … Anthony played a hell of a game on both sides of the ball.”

The performance was all the more impressive considering his matchup, Joel Embiid, has been tearing the NBA apart of late, scoring more points than minutes in his previous five games, and averaged 35 per game in January. Embiid ended up with 26 points on 9 of 20 FG’s with nine boards, seven assists and two blocks in 35 minutes.

“It’s always fun playing against another great big,” said Davis. “He’s been on a tear … we knew it was going to be a tough matchup coming in the way he was scoring the basketball, and it was fun to battle on both ends. Me guarding him, him guarding me. Any time I get a chance to play against someone like that, I try to have fun with that matchup.”

His status for Friday’s contest at Charlotte has yet to be determined, as it’s not only a back to back, but L.A.’s third game in four nights.

On Thursday afternoon, LeBron James showed up on the injury report for the first time this season with a sore left knee, leaving him questionable to play in the game. LeBron came out for pregame warm ups about two-and-a-half hours before tipoff, but was only on the court for less than five minutes before walking off with a disappointed look on his face. Shortly thereafter, we found out he wouldn’t be playing against the Sixers, which he confirmed with a tweet featuring angry face emojis and face palms.

It’s been that kind of season for the Lakers, who can’t seem to get LeBron and AD on the court at the same time. In fact, the two have now played in only 25 of the team’s last 99 games together, including Tuesday’s win at Brooklyn. Like Davis, his status for the Hornets is also to be determined.

Moments after learning that LeBron wouldn’t play at Philly, he was announced as the leading vote getter, and thus captain for, the Western All-Stars, his 18th straight time being named a starter, an NBA record:

Editor's Note: Malik Monk has been ruled out of the game due to left groin soreness.
For the first time in his NBA career, Malik Monk will be occupying the visiting locker room in Charlotte’s arena, after four years spent with the team that drafted him.

Though he was unable to carve out a permanent role for the Hornets, Monk had flashes of brilliance there, like a stretch in February in which he scored at least 20 points in five of six games.

The Hornets ultimately chose to build around their current backcourt of LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, plus lottery pick James Bouknight, who’s played limited minutes but did play 22 off the bench in Charlotte’s 158-126 blowout of Indiana on Tuesday night.

Monk, starting on Thursday with LeBron out of the lineup, was one of several Lakers role players that struggled to score the ball at Philly. He went just 3 for 13 from the field, and 1 for 6 from three, where he’d converted 6 of 12 attempts off the bench at Brooklyn. Meanwhile, Stanley Johnson went 1 for 6, Avery Bradley 1 for 4 and the entire bench just 8 for 29 (27.6%).

Historically, it’s been difficult for some LeBron teams to find a rhythm when he’s off the floor, as he’s drawing so much of the defensive attention, and thus creating opportunities elsewhere for teammates. Monk will be among those charged with carrying more of that burden in Charlotte if LeBron isn’t able to play for a second straight game.

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