LeBron James had 27 points and nine assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers prevented the visiting Charlotte Hornets from moving closer to a playoff spot with a 129-115 win on Friday night.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 25 points, Kyle Kuzma scored 20, Rajon Rondo had a season-high 17 assists, and Lance Stephenson contributed 14 points and a season-high 13 rebounds off the bench for the Lakers, who have won three out of four games for the first time since Dec. 8-15.
Kemba Walker scored 24 points to lead the Hornets, who dropped two games behind the Miami Heat for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. Charlotte has seven games remaining, five on the road.
Dwayne Bacon finished with 21 points, Miles Bridges scored 17, and Marvin Williams and Frank Kaminsky had 13 points each for the Hornets, who came in riding a season-long four-game winning streak.
James improved to 28-0 in his career against Walker.
Walker scored the first basket of the fourth quarter to pull the Hornets within eight at 101-93 with 9:56 left, but that was the only points they’d score in the first 4:24 of the quarter. Meanwhile, the Lakers extended their lead to 17 points and the Hornets never got back within single digits.
James scored off a dunk with 10:06 left in the first half for a 41-40 lead, the first for Los Angeles since it led 4-2.
The Lakers didn’t trail again the rest of game, moving ahead by double figures for the first time on a 3-pointer by Stephenson with 36.1 seconds left in the first half taking a 69-59 lead into the break.
The Hornets pulled back within six points in the opening minute of the third quarter, but Los Angeles followed with a 14-0 run to go ahead 83-63 with 7:36 left in the third before Charlotte managed to cut that deficit in half entering the fourth.
James had four turnovers in little more than seven minutes to start the game, and the Hornets led by as any as nine in the first quarter before they took a 35-33 lead into the second.
—Field Level Media