The Lakers, whose 0-5 start was the worst since the club moved to Los Angeles, hadn’t lost six straight to open a season since the 1957-58 Lakers — then based in Minneapolis — lost their first seven.
While the current Lakers have avoided a repeat of that dismal start — or worse — Bryant and Lin both said they have a lot of work to do if they want to win consistently.
“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 Lin, 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.”
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 chipped in 11.
The Lakers trailed throughout the first half, but out-scored 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 advantage entering the fourth, and the Hornets never got the deficit below eight in the final period.
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, wasn’t ready to call the victory a turning point, even if it was a positive sign.
“You’ve got to start somewhere,” he said, but noted that the Lakers face a tough stretch of games against Memphis, New Orleans and San Antonio in the coming week.
“The task just gets harder and harder,” Bryant said, and was echoed by Lin.
“We’ve got to play harder every night,” Lin said. “If we play harder every night, we have a chance.”