LeBron, Lakers hold on to defeat Hornets 121-115

(AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

CHARLOTTE — LeBron James exploded for 43 points and 11 rebounds on Monday night in the Spectrum Center as the Los Angeles Lakers handed the Charlotte Hornets a 121-115 home loss. 

A late shot from P.J. Washington brought the Hornets within six points with 24 seconds left, but Charlotte (10-28) was unable to close the gap despite outscoring LA (16-21) by a 12-point margin in the fourth quarter. 

Charlotte has now lost 13 of its past 16 contests.

“LeBron was great, obviously, the whole game….we tried to double team him as much as we could but 19 fastbreak points is going to be hard. That’s their strength. He was right in the middle,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford said after the loss.

Mason Plumlee had one of his best performances as a Hornet in the game as he recorded 18 points 14 points; Terry Rozier led Charlotte in scoring with 27 points while LaMelo Ball posted 24 points and seven rebounds.

The Lakers led the Hornets by just a point after one quarter but built up a 60-45 halftime lead fueled by James’ offensive attack that only grew in size throughout the night. 

He was 16 of 26 from the field overall with 23 points in the second half, pulling within 500 points (37,903) of the NBA scoring record set by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s career mark (38,387).

While the Hornets managed to make it a closer game by the end, they had dug too large of a hole to get out of.

“We don’t have a lot of room for error but we can play a lot better,” Clifford said. “We gave up 19 fastbreak points. Early in the year, we were never doing that. In the first 15 to 16 games of the year, we were first in transition. We were 13th to 14th in defense and our pick-and-roll defense was good. Our individual defense was okay. Right now, over the last 12 games, we’re 29th in fastbreak points allowed.”

Thomas Bryant added 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers while Dennis Schroder and Austin Reaves each had 15 points. 

Washington notched 12 points for the Hornets as Josh McDaniels posted 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench. 

Charlotte is set to host the Memphis Grizzlies (23-13) on Wednesday night as Ja Morant (27.2 ppg) and Desmond Bane (21.8 ppg) come to the Spectrum Center. The Hornets will attempt to get their second home win since Dec. 2.