- The Los Angeles Lakers host the upstart Charlotte Hornets Thursday night
- Montrezl Harrell has added scoring punch in the absence of Anthony Davis
- Check the odds, analysis and betting preview below
After a rough stretch adjusting to life without AD, the Lakers have found their sea legs, and have reeled off three straight.
They’ll get a nice test Thursday night, when the surprising Charlotte Hornets come to town. The best fresh story in the NBA, Charlotte’s 7-4 run in their last 11 has vaulted them into the thick of the East playoff picture.
But they’re hitting a meaty part of their schedule, and they enter as 8-point underdogs in LA.
Hornets vs Lakers Odds
|Spread at FanDuel
|Ov 227.5 (-110)
|Los Angeles Lakers
|Un 227.5 (-110)
Odds from March 17. Tip-off is Thursday at 10:30pm ET
Other Lakers Leveling Up
LeBron James continues to do LeBron James things, and he’s the centrepiece of an LA squad that’s staying afloat in the tough West. James picked up his fifth triple-double of the year in a blowout over the Wolves, as the Lakers moved to 3-0 since the all-star break.
That’s a far cry from the team that staggered into the break going just 2-6.
Montrezl Harrell is a fine artist in the paint. pic.twitter.com/lZFk2AaJEp
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 17, 2021
Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma have raised their games in the absence of Anthony Davis. Against the T-Wolves, Harrell finished with 25 points on 11-for-16 shooting, while adding four assists and six boards. It’s the third time in four games that he’s gone for 20+ points, after topping that mark just three times in February.
— LakeShow Highlights (@LA_HighLights24) March 13, 2021
Kuzma entered the break scoring a season-high 25 in a loss to the Kings, and opened the second half with a 24-point, 13-rebound gem against the Pacers. He scored 16 in a win over Golden State and 17 against Minnesota, shooting a sparkling 14-for-23 over the two games.
They’re the reason why LA’s reserves have been bonkers over the last three games, averaging 64.3 points.
LaMelo Making His Mark
It’s an odd pair that have lifted the Hornets to levels they haven’t seen in years. Start with rookie phenom LaMelo Ball. The Rookie of the Year favorite‘s infectious playmaking has let the rest of their roster excel. It’s pushed the Bugs to the 2nd-highest assist rate per game in the NBA, averaging over 27 a night.
LaMelo Ball continues to add to his Rookie of the Year case with another great game tonight.👀 He finished with 23 Points,9 Rebounds, and 6 Assists‼️ #nba #NBATwitter #allfly @hornets @MELOD1P pic.twitter.com/CrxxLfKRkv
— Handle Hoops (@HandleHoops) March 14, 2021
While Terry Rozier, Malik Monk and Devonte’ Graham are all able passers, having an established table-setter allows them to worry about filling it up. Young big PJ Washington is also getting rewarded for all the heavy lifting he’s doing on both ends of the floor.
The other end of that is free-agent pickup Gordon Hayward, who many thought was washed when Charlotte inked him to a still-ludicrous $120 million, 4-year deal. He’s gone on to lead the team in scoring at 21.1 points per game, adding 5.4 rebounds and 3.9 dimes, while also shooting 41% from deep.
GORDON HAYWARD WITH AUTHORITY. 😤
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) March 16, 2021
Hayward presents a professional decision maker and creator, to help the young team generate offense when they need buckets. The Hornets really do damage from deep, hitting at better than 38%, good for sixth in the NBA.
What’s the Best Bet?
Charlotte’s four-game win streak game to a crashing halt Wednesday, in an evisceration at the hands of the Nuggets. It’s the first of three mega-matchups with West powers, as they’ll play the Lakers and Clippers next.
The Lakers have the top defensive rating in the NBA, while they hold their opponents to the second-lowest points per game, and are sixth in both field-goal and three-point defense.
But no AD and the Hornets’ ability to move the ball could give the Lakers some problems. While I think LA takes it, that’s a lot of points to give to a team that’s shown it’s a legit squad and looking to bounce back from a blowout. They’ve also won three straight games on the second night of back-to-backs, after an 0-3 start in those sets this year.
The pick: Hornets +8 (-110)