LeBron James dominates again, leading the Lakers over the Hornets

Jan 2, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) shoots as he is defended by Charlotte Hornets center Mark Williams (5) and forward P.J. Washington (25) during first half at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 2, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) shoots as he is defended by Charlotte Hornets center Mark Williams (5) and forward P.J. Washington (25) during first half at the Spectrum Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Lakers have been living the life of the ups and downs of the NBA. No one player illustrates this more than LeBron James, who basically started one of the most spirited debates over production and impact on winning games.

Both LeBron and the Lakers had to have seen the bottom of the barrel when the Charlotte Hornets walked into their arena and beat them 134-130. Couple this with an abominable performance against the Dallas Mavericks on Christmas Day, and some thought (Starting with this writer!) the season was a wrap.

Like this was less than two weeks ago right?

The staff of Lake Show Life went on record stating that the Lakers HAD to finish above .500 on this road trip to even have a discussion on what lies ahead for the rest of the season. After losing to the Miami Heat on the trip, the Lakers came into this matchup dismantling the Orlando Magic and exposing an Atlanta Hawks team that has more dysfunction in the front office than they do on LeBron James’ birthday when he dropped 47 points.

The Los Angeles Lakers found two things on this four-game road trip that they can build on before the schedule gets really tough in a few weeks…

  1. These three wins in four games shows that the Lakers actually can survive while Anthony Davis is out!
  2. The killer LeBron James is back. You know, the dude that was focused during the championship run a couple of years ago. 

The Los Angeles Lakers avenged their embarrassing loss to Charlotte ten days ago with a very solid 121-115 over the Hornets. Watch out Lakers Nation, but the Lakers have now won two straight games and three out of their last four with a motivated superstar.

The good from the Los Angeles Lakers’ win:

LeBron James just destroyed the Charlotte Hornets!

See now this is more like it. When LeBron scored 34 points in the previous game, the criticism was loud, constant and frequent. Why? He didn’t impose his will on the game. In this game, it didn’t take two minutes to realize that the man was on a seek-and-destroy mission. He didn’t play like the best player on the floor in L.A. and the Lakers lost.

He played like the most feared player in the NBA and the game was over by the middle of the second quarter!

LeBron James finished with 43 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. What exciting about this stat line was that he was aggressive in attacking the basket. Sure he missed shots beyond the arc, but he didn’t let the Hornets’ defenders off the hook. When a smaller defender was on him, LeBron pushed him under the rim and scored.

Much more on LeBron later!

Austin Reaves got out of his mini-slump!

Watching Austin Reaves navigate his inconsistent minutes this season without losing his rhythm is really quite remarkable. His nagging injuries along with Darvin Ham’s fascination with Patrick Beverley had Reaves hit the wall for the first time this season. He shot 1-13 in Atlanta.

He bounced back with 15 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists.

He threw a much better alley-oop to LeBron James than Patrick Beverley did for sure.

Speaking of consistent minutes to deserving players…

Thomas Bryant…

18 points and 15 rebounds. But it’s not about the stats here. This dude is bringing a physicality on the backline not seen since Dwight Howard…the second time around! He really made the Charlotte front line look soft. This is how good he is playing right now. Wenyen Gabriel is not playing badly at all, but he can’t get on the floor because Bryant is abusing everyone in the paint!

Again…LeBron James influenced his teammates!

As long as the “others” do their part and compete, the Lakers can beat bad teams, compete with mediocre teams and make the elite teams work. Basketball is simple isn’t it?

The bad from the Los Angeles Lakers’ win:

Russell Westbrook…

He sat out the second half for reported “foot soreness” but he was terrible when he was in the game. Based on how credible at times the franchise can be with media statements, Russ had better not start stringing games like these together or Kendrick Nunn will be back in the fold.

The story from the Los Angeles Lakers’ win:

LeBron James actually pays attention to the criticism of the media and he has responded!

There will always be a love/hate type of relationship between the LeBron James fanbase and this website. Why? We call it as we see it. The one thing no one ever said about this player is that anyone can stop him when he cares. It’s not happening. The fact remains is that LeBron was coasting for weeks. Then the statements came out on his play not up to par even though the stats were historically great based on circumstances.

To the readers that were triggered by this analysis…it seems to have gone national.

Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard a few days ago: 

"“What LeBron is doing is by far the best 20th season we’ve ever seen, ” Broussard raved. “No one has come close to doing what LeBron is doing at this age or stage of his career. And so anything he does good is gravy. It’s icing on a great career that’s only been topped by one guy [Michael Jordan].”“And so this is not a criticism of LeBron, but what last night [the Lakers’ recent 134-120 loss to the Kings, during which James scored 31 points, dished out 11 dimes, and grabbed six rebounds] showed is that he no longer is obviously the No. 1 guy on a good team and he’s not as good as his numbers are showing… You would look at those numbers — and on efficient shooting overall — and say, ‘Man, LeBron is just as good as ever.’ No, he’s not. All right, this isn’t close to what LeBron used to be. I don’t begrudge him at all, but he’s putting up big numbers in a league that is easy to score in, relatively speaking.”"

Bottom line here is to look for a LeBron James explosion for a few weeks. He’s engaged and locked in. This is what the Lakers paid for to the tune of what? Over $40 million this season? Is it fair that the Lakers put together a cheap, just-above-G-League roster to save Jeanie Buss some money? No. But that is what he signed up for. AD too.

However, this is how LeBron James plays when motivated. Casuals don’t get it, but basketball purists understand and can gauge it.

Over the road trip, LeBron James has shown leadership that has saved the Lakers’ playoff aspirations for now. The leadership is showing throughout the roster and he is dominating games against teams when he is the best player in the building.

Not much to ask is it?