Lakers play Hornets to finish off Grammy road trip

The Lakers can end the road trip with a 4-2 slate.

The Lakers are riding a bit high as of late. They scored an upset road win against the team with the best record, the Boston Celtics. And two nights later, they defeated the New York Knicks, who came into the game with a 9-game winning streak. Those are the best consecutive games they’ve played all season.

But there are reasons to be worried with this upcoming contest. Monday is looking like the ultimate trap game.

The Lakers are playing the 10-38 Charlotte Hornets (who they beat in Los Angeles on Dec. 28). The Hornets are in the midst of a 7-game losing streak.

To those that haven’t watched the Lakers much this season, they might scoff at this notion. But to us that have, this is a scary game. The Lakers have been very consistent about one thing this season: inconsistency.

This road trip perfectly encapsulates the season the Lakers have been having. A lot of people foolishly thought that their win against Golden State to start off the road trip was the turning point of the season. But then the Lakers got smacked in the face in Houston and Atlanta, two games that were seemingly winnable and they didn’t even come close in those. Then they followed it up with those aforementioned wins in Boston and New York. It’s really been a weird 2023-24 campaign for the Lakers.

So yes, no one in L.A. would be surprised if they blow it in Charlotte. And the Hornets have been a disaster for most of this season. They’re already full of injuries with LaMelo Ball, Gordon Hayward, and Mark Williams out. Terry Rozier was dealt to Miami recently. And we know about the Miles Bridges situation.

The Hornets are also 28th in field goal percentage, 29th in scoring, 29th in rebounding, 26th in assists, 28th in offensive rating, and 30th (dead last) in defensive rating. So, yes, that’s a recipe for a terrible NBA team. It’s kind of a miracle they don’t have the worst record in the league (even more that there are three teams, record-wise, that are worse than them).

There is some hope. Rookie Brandon Miller has caught fire as of late, averaging 22.7 points per and shooting .403 from three in his last 10 games (including a career-best 35 points on Sunday against the Pacers). Nick Richards is fearless inside the paint. And their other rookie, Nick Smith Jr., has been outstanding behind the arc in the limited minutes he’s getting.

It may be a lost season (yet again) for the Hornets but they are certainly capable of playing spoiler for any team. They can certainly do that against the Los Angeles Lakers, who have looked awesome in the last two games. Their defense (even without Jarred Vanderbilt) has been something to behold (and we know that they’ve been capable of it). Holding the Knicks scoreless for nearly 7 minutes in the fourth quarter was a virtuoso performance and the best defensive stretch the Lakers have had all season. Hope they can bring the same energy (I’m still skeptical about this) in Queen City.

But if the Lakers win, they can take a three-game winning streak home with them. And they’ll be two games above .500. It’s been a bit since I’ve seen that kind of record for the Lakers. But in order to get to that, they’ll have to take care of business. And they’ve had trouble doing that all season.