The Los Angeles Lakers are now 2-1 in the 2019-20 NBA season after picking up a win against the Charlotte Hornets, 120-101.
It was a closer game than the Lakers would have liked for most of the game until Los Angeles pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Even though it wasn’t a perfect performance, the win was still an important one. Host Trevor Lane digs into the fallout from the game and discusses three things he learned.
First up, Dwight Howard had his best performance of the season, shooting 8-of-8 from the field for 16 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four blocks in 23 minutes. At 33 years old, it wasn’t clear if Howard’s waning athleticism would allow him to make a major impact for the Lakers this season or if he would simply be a big body to hold down the fort in the middle while JaVale McGee got a rest.
Against the Hornets, Howard left fans wondering whether it should be him starting instead of McGee. He looked spry on the defensive end by blocking shots at the rim while out-jumping the Hornets for rebounds on multiple occasions. He was also a lob target for the Lakers, including a memorable reverse drunk that got the Staples Center crowd on their feet.
Additionally, fans saw a Lakers team that secured a win with their defense, even if it wasn’t a consistent effort from the opening tip. The game started with the Hornets finding too many open looks, particularly from behind the three-point line, but the Lakers fixed those issues as the game went on. Key substitutions like Alex Caruso kept the defensive intensity high while starters like Danny Green and Avery Bradley made their presence felt.
Still, the defensive mindset starts with LeBron James and Davis, who were making the extra effort to close out on shooters and shut down opportunities for the Hornets.
Finally, if this win showed fans anything, it’s that head coach Frank Vogel has a problem on his hands when it comes to minutes, particularly at the guard positions. Bradley, Green, Caruso, Troy Daniels, and Quinn Cook have all proven to be worthy of minutes, and the struggling Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looked much better against the Hornets.
With Vogel already stating that he wants Rondo to see 25-30 minutes per night when he’s healthy, who will have to head to the bench?
It’s going to be a difficult decision and one that Vogel will have to navigate carefully.