On Tuesday night in Charlotte, the Los Angeles Lakers hit new heights for the 2016-17 NBA season when the team scored 73 points in the first half, but Kemba Walker's 28 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds combined with a disasterous third quarter gave the Hornets a 117-113 victory.
In the first half, the Lakers shot 66.7 percent from three-point land, as Jordan Clarkson and Nick Young combined to hit nine of their 12 three-point attempts from the depths of the NBA three-point line. While the Lakers had to be happy with their ball movement on offense, the fact that the Charlotte Hornets scored 59 points of their own in the first 24 minutes had to be cause for concern.
After the hometown Hornets scored 16 of the first 20 points following the intermission, the Lakers' lead had been trimmed to a skinny two points only four minutes into the third quarter. A couple minutes later, the Hornets took an 82-80 lead with 5:52 remaining in the third quarter.
The game had changed.
The Lakers' had led by as many as 19 points in the first half, but the team tasted a four-point deficit in the forgettable third quarter. Even worse, Larry Nance Jr. came up limp following a rush for a loose ball and appeared to be unable to put weight on his left leg. He had to be helped off the court and into the locker room by his teammates. Nance was initially diagnosed with a left knee injury and did not return to the game. Spectrum SportsNet reported that X-rays came back negative, but Nance will undergo an MRI on Wednesday in Miami to better evaluate the injury.
Nance's exit seemed to serve as the smelling salt for the Lakers, who immediately went on a run and rallied to take a six-point lead. However, those effects wore off, and LA entered the fourth quarter only leading by two points.
In the fourth quarter, Clarkson continued to hit the mark from long range, as the Lakers' backup shooting guard set a career-high with seven made three-pointers in the game on nine attempts. Unfortunately, Clarkson did not get up more attempts later in the game. As a team, the Lakers finished with 16 makes on 33 attempts from beyond the three-point line.
The final quarter proved to be a back-and-forth ordeal. With two minutes remaining in the game, the Lakers and Hornets were tied at 113-113. The score would remain unchanged until Nicolas Batum hit a running bank shot with 13.0 second remaining to give Charlotte the 115-113 lead.
Out of a timeout, the Lakers tossed the ball in to Young at the top of the key, but the 31-year-old's three-point shot did not drop. LA then had to play the fouling game, and a couple of made foul shots late, the Hornets claimed the 117-113 victory.
Notes: Batum finished with 23 points, 10 assists and five rebounds in the victory. Lou Williams finished with 16 points and eight assists. Clarkson finished with a team-high 25 points on 9-13 shooting, to go along with five assists. LA dropped to 11-20 on the season, while the Hornets improved to 16-13.