For the second game in as many nights, the Charlotte Hornets looked defenseless against dribble-penetration.
Friday night, it was the Chicago Bulls scoring 56 points in the lane. Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers amassed another 56 in the paint in a 110-99 victory at Spectrum Center. The Lakers shot 51 percent from the field.
Between injuries and heavy minutes for the starters in Friday’s overtime loss, the Hornets were diminished Saturday. But they lost at home again to one of the NBA’s weaker teams. The Lakers are 10-15 and in the second of a four-game East Coast trip.
Jordan Clarkson came off the bench to score 22 for the Lakers. Their fans took over the arena late in the game, chanting “Let’s Go, Lakers!” as if this was Staples Center.
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The Hornets have now lost three in a row – all at home – and seven of their last eight, to fall to 9-16. They play their next two on the road at Oklahoma City and Houston.
Hornets center Dwight Howard followed up a 25-point, 20-rebound performance against the Bulls with 21 points points and 12 rebounds Saturday. Point guard Kemba Walker finished with 23 points.
Three who mattered
Howard: He assembled a terrific first half, with 15 points and eight rebounds.
Brandon Ingram: The former Duke star (18 points) is so smooth off the dribble.
Treveon Graham: He performed well in stepped-up minutes this weekend.
▪ The Hornets continued to struggle with injuries. Cody Zeller (meniscus tear) and Frank Kaminsky (sprained ankle) were again out, as was Jeremy Lamb, who suffered a shin contusion in the Chicago Bulls game Friday. Nic Batum was listed as doubtful with pain in his left elbow, but was able to play.
▪ The overtime against the Bulls on the first night of a back-to-back certainly tested the Hornets’ depth. Batum, Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard each played at least 42 minutes. Acting coach Stephen Silas said under the circumstances, “anything is possible” as far as who he’d play Saturday.
▪ Batum has said his left elbow feels “weird” after six weeks of rehabilitation from a torn ligament. He missed the game in Cleveland
▪ Former North Carolina and Lakers star James Worthy was at the game, and posed for some selfies with fans pregame. He playfully made one kid take off his Duke hoodie before a picture.
▪ It was “Star Wars” night: A guy dressed as a storm trooper proposed during a timeout in the first half.
▪ The two teams combined for just seven free-throw attempts in the first half, which is rare for an NBA game.
▪ The Hornets and Lakers combined for 64 points in the paint in the first half.
▪ Walker and Howard each was assessed a technical foul Saturday. That was Howard’s sixth tech this season, according to the Hornets, and Walker’s third.
C OFFENSE: When the Hornets don’t get to the foul line, they’re in trouble; just 14 free throw attempts Saturday.
F DEFENSE: The Lakers got the ball inside at will.
D COACHING: Associate head coach Stephen Silas is in a tough spot not of his making, but these were bad back-to-back losses.
Rick Bonnell: 704-358-5129, @rick_bonnell