The Los Angeles Lakers have started 2023 with a 121-115 victory over the Charlotte Hornets, and after going through a dry spell that lasted through much of December, they have now won three of their last four games.
After a slow start, LA got out to a sizable lead that ballooned to as many as 24 in the third quarter. It coasted the rest of the way, which unfortunately meant the Hornets were able to score 39 points in the fourth quarter and make things semi-competitive in the closing moments.
But behind another huge game from LeBron James, the Lakers made sure they emerged victorious, which means they will return home with some much-needed momentum.
Is James really 38 years of age? It doesn’t seem like it the way he continues to rack up big numbers with high efficiency.
On Monday he scored 43 points on 16-of-26 shooting from the field and 11-of-15 from the free throw line while adding 11 rebounds and six assists. He hasn’t been getting to the charity stripe as much as he did in the past, but lately, that part of his game has trended upward.
The only thing James isn’t doing well this season is hit from 3-point range – he missed all five of his attempts versus Charlotte – but other than that, he remains very much in his prime.
Troy Brown Jr.: A
Brown continued his improved play of late by going 4-of-8 from the field (all shot attempts were 3-pointers), to go along with five rebounds, three steals and two assists. It will be a major bonus for Los Angeles if he maintains anywhere close to this type of level of play for the rest of the season.
Thomas Bryant A
Bryant’s energy, activity and spirit have been a major boon for the Lakers. On Monday he went 9-of-17 to score 18 points while also grabbing 15 rebounds and adding two assists and a steal.
He has become quite a weapon on pick and rolls, dives to the basket and fast-break opportunities, making him a pretty versatile offensive player for LA
Bryant had perhaps the play of the game with less than a minute left and the team clinging to a 112-106 lead. After Patrick Beverley missed, he grabbed an offensive rebound near the basket and scored on a putback dunk to help seal a win.
Beverley was just 2-of-7 overall, but he went 2-of-4 from downtown, continuing his hot outside shooting of late. He also had seven rebounds, three blocked shots and two assists, and he was a reason LaMelo Ball shot just 9-of-22.
Dennis Schroder: C+/B-
Schroder did a good job of looking for his shot on Monday, but he went just 4-of-11 overall. He did do well in terms of getting to the free throw line, where he was 6-of-7, giving him 15 points on the night, plus five assists.
Wenyen Gabriel: B-
In 11 minutes, Gabriel managed just one rebound, plus one blocked shot and five points on two made field goals and one made free throw. It was a quiet night for him, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort.
Juan Toscano-Anderson: B-
Toscano-Anderson didn’t score (he attempted just one shot in 11 minutes), but his value to the Lakers goes well beyond how many points he scores. He grabbed two rebounds, and his energy and intensity, especially on the defensive end, if what the team likely values most from him.
Russell Westbrook D
In 11 minutes in the first half, Westbrook struggled, going only 1-of-8 overall and committing three turnovers while contributing four rebounds and two assists.
He was ruled out of the second half due to foot soreness, something which he had been dealing with lately.
Austin Reaves: A+
After two very bad outings, Reaves shone brightly versus the Hornets. He missed only one of his seven shot attempts, made both of his 3-point attempts and finished with 15 points, seven assists, six rebounds and one steal in just 22 minutes.
Kendrick Nunn: C+/B-
Nunn got six minutes of playing time in the second half due to Westbrook not being able to return. He hit 2-of-5 from the field and 1-of-3 from beyond the arc, giving him five points.