Gordon Hayward got the tiebreaking layup on a goaltending call against LeBron James with 6.3 seconds to play, and the Charlotte Hornets held off the Los Angeles Lakers 134-130 for only their second victory in 11 games.
James scored 18 of his 34 points while leading a stirring fourth-quarter comeback by the Lakers, who erased a 16-point deficit in the second half. James scored or assisted on 11 straight points in the final 2:30, and he drove for the tying layup with 30 seconds left.
After Hayward got an offensive rebound and drew the goaltending call, James fed Dennis Schröder for an open corner three-point attempt — but the German guard missed, and PJ Washington hit two free throws to ice the Hornets’ second win on their six-game trip.
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It’s a cruel final play for James and the Lakers. The four-time MVP received the inbounds pass and immediately attempted to drive to the basket, and looked set to pass by his initial defender when the shoe on his left foot slipped off, causing him to trip over.
It was a play that left even James’ biggest critic, veteran journalist Skip Bayless, in disbelief.
Washington scored 24 points, while LaMelo Ball had 23 points, eight rebounds and eight assists against his hometown team. Terry Rozier also scored 23 in his return from a two-game absence with a bruised right hip as the Hornets earned their first road win over the Lakers in five tries since January 2018.
Austin Reaves scored 20 points and Russell Westbrook had 17 for Los Angeles, which has lost three straight.
Anthony Davis missed his fourth consecutive game with what the Lakers earlier on Saturday called a stress injury in his right foot. There is no timetable for the return of the eight-time All-Star big man, who was playing superbly before his latest major injury in three seasons of miserable health.
Thomas Bryant had eight points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers before leaving the court with 3:16 to play while holding his right shoulder in obvious pain. Bryant, who returned to watch the final possessions, has been solid as Los Angeles’ starting center in Davis’ absence, and a significant injury would be another major blow to the rotation.
Restricted free agent Miles Bridges attended the game and sat directly under the basket on the Hornets’ end of the court. He gave high-fives to his former teammates during pregame warm-ups.
Bridges, who played his first four NBA seasons with Charlotte, pleaded no contest to a domestic violence charge last month in Los Angeles, receiving probation and no jail time. ESPN reported earlier Friday that the Hornets are closing in on a new contract with Bridges, who is likely to receive a lengthy suspension that can’t begin until he is signed by a team.
“Yeah, we’re not going to comment on that right now,” coach Steve Clifford said when asked before the game about the report.
Two days after getting run off the same court by the Clippers shortly before halftime, Charlotte jumped to an 88-72 lead over the Lakers early in the third quarter with a 21-5 run immediately after halftime. James started a comeback in the fourth quarter, cutting the Hornets’ lead to 114-111 on a driving layup with 4:51 to play.
Right before Hayward’s decisive last-minute play, Reaves stole passed from Ball — but the Lakers somehow couldn’t score on a 4-on-1 break.
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