Kobe Bryant and Jeremy Lin scored 21 points apiece on Sunday as the Los Angeles Lakers nabbed their first win of the NBA season, a 107-92 decision over Charlotte.
The Lakers, whose 0-5 start to the season was the worst since the club moved to Los Angeles, had not lost six straight to open a campaign since the 1957-1958 Lakers — then based in Minneapolis — lost their first seven.
While the current Lakers have avoided a repeat of that dismal start — or worse — Lin and Bryant both said they have a lot of work to do if they want to win consistently.
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“The one thing about today is we were talking, we were engaged, we were moving, we were trying to make it difficult [for Charlotte],” Lin said of the Lakers’ improved defensive performance. “We were just trying to make them take some tough jump shots.”
Offensively, Lin said he and Bryant are still adjusting to each other.
“It’s just a process,” said the Taiwanese-American, who was traded to the Lakers by the Houston Rockets in July. “He’s got to learn to continue to trust me and I have to learn to trust him and what that looks like in terms of when to give the ball to the other person.
“It’s not like we’re both coming in inherently trying to be selfish. We both want it to work, we just have to figure out how and today was a step in the right direction,” Lin said.
Carlos Boozer finished with 16 points and Jordan Hill added 12 with a career-high seven assists for the Lakers. Al Jefferson paced the Hornets with 23 points, while Kemba Walker added 17 and Marvin Williams had 11.
The Lakers trailed throughout the first half, but outscored the Hornets 34-13 in the third quarter to seize control.
Boozer scored eight points during a 16-1 scoring run, with his last basket giving the Lakers their first lead of the night. Lin and Bryant then both hit three-pointers as the Lakers built a 67-59 lead.
Ed Davis’ layup with 2.4 seconds left in the third helped Los Angeles take a 76-64 lead entering the fourth and the Hornets never got the deficit below eight in the final period.
Bryant was not ready to call the victory a turning point, even if it was a positive sign.
“The task just gets harder and harder,” Bryant said, and was echoed by Lin, who added: “We’ve got to play harder every night. If we play harder every night, we have a chance.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Isaiah Thomas scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Phoenix Suns to a rallying 107-95 victory over the Golden State Warriors, leaving the NBA with no unbeaten teams.
Fellow reserve Gerald Green added 16 of his 19 points in the final quarter, when the Suns surged ahead after trailing by eight.
Stephen Curry scored 28 points, but just six in the second half, when he was plagued by missed shots and foul trouble. Draymond Green added 22 points and nine rebounds for the Warriors (5-1).
Miami’s Luol Deng had a season-high 30 points, and Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade added 20 each as the Heat beat the Mavericks 105-96 to stay unbeaten against Dallas since the 2011 NBA Finals.
The Heat have won seven straight regular-season games against the Mavericks since Dallas took three in a row in the finals to capture their first championship.
Monta Ellis led the Mavericks with 23 points.
The Toronto Raptors downed the winless Philadelphia 76ers 120-88 after DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points. Terrence Ross had 17.
Lou Williams added 16 against his former team and Kyle Lowry had 14. The Raptors are alone atop the Eastern Conference for the first time in their 20-year history.
In other games, Reggie Jackson scored 11 of 22 points in the fourth quarter to help Oklahoma City beat Sacramento 101-93, Utah edged Detroit 97-96 and New Jersey defeated Orlando 104-96.
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