Lakers – Bobcats Running Diary

Andrew BynumAs always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.

Inactives
Lakers: DJ Mbenga, Sun Yue
Bobcats: DJ Augustin, Sean May

D-Fenders!!!!
The Los Angeles D-Fenders rallied back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the Idaho Stampede, 106-103, in overtime at STAPLES Center on Tuesday evening.

Random Fantasy Post
Anybody else play fantasy hoops? My excuse for having three separate leagues is that I’m literally researching for my job by paying so much attention (valid???). Alas, here’s the top five list for ESPN standard leagues:

1) Chris Paul; 2) LeBron James; 3) Dwyane Wade; 4) Danny Granger; 5) Dirk Nowitzki

The top three are no surprise, nor is Dirk, but Granger’s presence is pretty impressive (thanks not just to being fourth in the league in scoring but his solid numbers in threes, rebounds, steals and even blocks). In fact, there isn’t another player who hasn’t already been an All-Star in the top 11 fantasy players this year. As for the Lakers, Kobe Bryant is 8th, Pau Gasol 23rd and Andrew Bynum 49th. All three could certainly be higher were they needed to do more on a nightly basis. Charlotte’s top player, Gerald Wallace, is 30th. OK, time of the game.

Starters
Lakers: Fish, Kobe, Luke, Pau and Bynum
Bobcats: Raymond Felton, Raja Bell, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Emeka Okafor

First Quarter
12:00 Kobe Bryant must have the most simple, least involved starting lineup entrance in sports. He literally does nothing but walk at normal speed through his teammates slapping low fives, and doesn’t punctuate it by the now extremely popular jumping up and hitting backs. Solid.

11:40 The Lakers open the game with an alley-oop for Bynum from Fisher. We’ll see if that marks the start of Bynum’s fourth consecutive big game. His second hoop came off a tough offensive board in traffic that preceded a smooth 15-foot jumper to put L.A. up 6-4 with about two minutes played.

8:48 Bynum again, off to another great start. This time Walton drew his defender off the block, dumped off nicely and gave Bynum an open dunk for six points, plus three boards.

6:33 Opposing Western coaches can not be happy to see Bynum very easily continuing his roll. After another bucket and board, he’s on pace for 64 points and 32 were he to play 48 minutes.

At the same time, the Lakers didn’t seem quite as interested in defense, as Charlotte made 6-of-12 shots and didn’t turn the ball over to stay within a point (14-13) at the first timeout.

3:21 Wallace, who just dunked to get to eight points and give the ‘Cats a 19-16 lead, is trying to get into the Guiness Book of World Records for “Farthest A Mouth Guard Has Ever Been Worn Outside The Mouth So It Can Be Chewed Upon Fiercely (FAMGHEBWOTMSICBCUF).”

2:14 As Wallace scores again to join Bynum with 10 points, I’m wondering why he doesn’t just put something more tasty in his mouth? The guard never actually enters his chomper. It’s amazing.

0:05 Bynum aside (5-of-6), the Lakers shot horribly from the field, and by that I mean 3-for-17 (a.k.a. 17 percent). Gasol and Bryant put up a combined 1-for-11, and the Lakers scored just 16 points on 34.8 percent. The Bobcats, meanwhile, made 11-of-24 shots (45.8 percent) to take a 23-16 lead after one.

Second Quarter
11:22 Better start to the second with a transition jumper from newly-checked-in Jordan Farmar.

9:47 Sasha Vujacic’s first shot just went in, from three. As mentioned two diaries ago (??), that’s always a good thing. Gasol would follow with a tip-in to cut Charlotte’s lead to 26-23.

9:05 Wallace, who scored on pretty spin move in the lane (12 points), should have a name for his mouthguard.

7:35 Gasol’s really struggling to make shots (2-of-10). There’s a chance that Skippy (Wallace’s mouthguard) nudged Pau in the eye or something. Meanwhile, 1-of-2 free throws from Odom cut Charlotte’s lead to 32-26.

6:20 Diop scores an easy layup, Cats lead by 10, crowd boos. Not playing good defense is starting to catch up with L.A., while the Bobcats have contested each and every shot at the other end (like Brian Shaw told us after shootaround).

5:19 Finally, Bryant gets a perimeter jumper to go down after missing his first five shots. To Charlotte’s credit, it too was highly contested by Bell. Judging from the periodical hisses among the STAPLES faithful, the fans are starting to get a bit annoyed with Charlotte’s higher level of work…

4:52 Ariza got hit on the head on a screen, and went off the floor to be evaluated. We’ll see what else we can find out here and update as soon as we know anything…

3:44 … Which Bryant mitigated a bit thanks to another jumper and a steal/dunk combo to make it a 40-34 game.

3:20 Bell picked up two personal fouls on one possession trying to guard Bryant, which resulted in two free throws and a 6-0 gold run. If you’re Phil Jackson, it’d be nice to see the ball worked back into Bynum or Gasol, but I guess you can’t argue with production. We should say this, however: Diaw and Bell have both been very good today, and really since about a week after Phoenix dealt them to east for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley. Diaw has six points, five dimes and three boards, while Bell has six points, a dime and a block plus some good defense on Kobe up until those two fouls.

2:45 Make it three fouls and a ticket to the bench as Bryant hits two more free throws after Bell hits his elbow on a jumper.

1:11 As Adam Morrison takes a swipe at Gasol’s face and knocks him to the floor after a dunk, the refs aptly call a flagrant one foul. Pau hit the resulting free throw, and the Lakers kept the ball according to rule. Thus, after the inbounds pass, Bryant hit a jumper for a five-point possession to cut Charlotte’s lead to just two.

0:13.3 If that Morrison play didn’t completely take the gusto out of the Bobcats, a Fisher three after an extra pass from Vladimir Radmanovic may have. That turned the 10-point lead into a one-point deficit. Really a killer turn of events there, even though it’s only the second quarter.

0:00.9 Felton was able to re-generate a bit of a positive feeling for the ‘Cats with a baseline jumper to beat the buzzer and give his squad a 49-48 lead at the half.

No word yet on Ariza, but we’ll go downstairs to check on it.

Pau GasolThird Quarter
OK, here’s your Ariza update: He suffered a concussion during that second quarter and will not return to tonight’s game. While that’s certainly upsetting news for Lakers fans, L.A. may be the league’s deepest team at the three position. Hopefully Ariza’s back for Friday night’s game in Minnesota, but we’ll have to wait and see.

9:12 A nice look from Fisher finds Bynum with great low-post position, resulting in an easy lay-in as the Lakers claimed a one-point lead.

7:09 On the other end, Bynum challenged a Felton drive, forcing the former UNC National Champ to change his shot, which Walton grabbed off the glass. Fisher then hit a jumper to make it 58-57 home team.

5:51 Walton’s three answered one from Felton, but better yet was how eager Walton seemed to shoot it.

4:23 Bynum’s 12th rebound came off Bryant’s miss inside, and netted two made free throws to get him 15 points. But the Bobcats aren’t balking, continuing to fight the Lakers at both ends and refusing to cede any territory. This is the same organization that’s managed to beat the Lakers in four of the last five meetings, even though it’s quite a different team.

2:42 As Gasol follows an Odom miss with a dunk to cut Charlotte’s lead to three, we see Jonah Hill sandwiched between Gary Vitti and David Spade, two seats away from Anthony Kiedis. Interesting mix there, right?

0:01.2 Adam Morrison, contested as could be, rainbows a triple to give the Bobcats a 76-70 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Lakers seem more annoyed than anything else that the pesky visitors aren’t just hanging around but actually have a lead.

Struggling mightily tonight is Gasol, who’s made just 4-of-15 shots for 10 points, with four rebounds to Bynum’s 12.

Fourth Quarter
11:21 Who else but Shannon Brown, formerly of the D-League and a 26 percent three-point shooter, to nail an end-of-the-shot-clock triple for a nine-point lead.

9:51 Good time for Vujacic’s second three. Six-point game.

8:12 L.A. drew to within three on Bryant’s fade-away jumper off glass, then immediately got the ball back when Odom destroyed a Juwan Howard jumper. Odom responded by going strong to the hole on DeSagana Diop, drawing a foul and making 1-of-2 free throws. That’s pretty much what he’s been doing from the line of late, and has done it all three times tonight.

7:31 Kobe drew the second-straight offensive foul on Gerald Wallace, who then drew a technical foul for incessant complaining. Vujacic hit the free throw to make it a one-point game. Some may have thought that Kobe would have taken that free throw, and I’m going to have to do a story on who takes it, why and when.

6:10 Another big shot from Vujacic, again from three, to tie the game at 81 and give the Slovenian 10 points off the bench. Good thing he hit that first one. By the way, Bynum has yet to play in the fourth, but that could change after the six-minute time out…

Yup, there’s ‘Drew, on the floor with Fisher (also just checking in), Bryant, Vujacic and Odom as Wallace and Skippy miss two free throws to keep the score tied.

5:02 Fisher hits a tough baseline shot to put L.A. back in front for the first time this quarter. That’s 11 points with five assists for Fish.

3:37 Diaw’s turnaround on the baseline followed a Okafor put-back to give the Bobcats a four-point lead.

3:09 The Frenchman is killing the Lakers. There’s Diaw, again, this time with a timely three-pointer to put Charlotte up 90-83. Boris has been terrific with 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds. As a team, the ‘Cats answered L.A.’s run with a 7-0 burst to take control of the game.

2:52 Wide-open three from Vujacic this time is well short of the goal, unlike Bryant’s baseline jumper with 2:19 to play that made it a five-point game.

2:08 Bryant went for the steal on Wallace at the top of the key, but missed, allowing Wallace a clean look at the lane. Bynum, however, quickly stepped in, and caught Wallace with an elbow to the chest on a play that didn’t look dirty, but certainly hurt Wallace and netted a flagrant one foul (two shot plus the ball). What basically happened was Wallace exploded to the hoop very quickly, and while Bryant was clearly trying to foul him, he got his elbow up to protect himself from Wallace’s body.

Alas, Bell was chosen to shoot for Wallace, who was helped off the floor, but missed both. Diaw then drew a foul on the ensuing possession, but he too missed both. Bryant then got the ball, pushed it up and sank a 17-footer.

1:23 Diaw answered with a jumper. Bobcats by five.

1:12 Mamba. For three. Two-point game.

32.9 Vujacic miss, from three, and an ensuing rebound for the ‘Cats. In the scuffle for the board, Gasol fouled Diaw, who went down and missed the first of two, Charlotte’s FIFTH miss in the final two minutes. The Lakers really shouldn’t be in this game, but instead are down three with 30.7 to play.

0:14 FISH. From three. Tie game, somehow? What a play. Bryant first cut around Diaw, slid into the lane, and passed with two hands over to a cutting Fisher, who immediately pulled up and drained it. So, after five missed Bobcats free throws and dagger threes from Bryant and Fisher in the final 1:12, we’re all square… But Charlotte has time to get a good shot.

0:01.9 Felton got a good look from 22 feet, but came up short. Overtime. What a downer for a Bobcats’ team that really battled. Not only do they have to go to OT with a suddenly inspired and hot Lakers team, but Wallace is in the locker room.

Overtime
4:37 A pull-up jumper from Bryant’s a pretty good way to start. Lakers by two.

4:08 Even better, a swat from Bynum on one end and a stuff at the other, in alley-oop form, from Bryant. Lakers 97, Bobcats 93.

2:58 Bryant, all the way to the cup for two. He crossed Bell over at the three-point line, got the step and laid if home for a six-point lead. That’s 34 points, eight boards and five assists for the MVP. The tide certainly seems to have turned, but the game’s long from over.

2:26 Felton converted a drive to the hole, and Fisher was whistled off the ball, resulting in an Okafor free throw to cut L.A.’s lead in half.

2:07 There’s the Kobe up-fake. Bell committed the foul, and Bryant made both as Jackson subbed Gasol in for Bynum.

1:43 Brown on the baseline dunk off a nice feed to cut the lead to three. Bryant then missed a jumper, resulting in Bell’s make at the other end and a 101-100 Lakers lead.

0:51.9 But there’s Mamba again, this time from the baseline. Lead back to three…

… BUT, Bryant fouled out at the other end as Brown bumped into him. Steve Javie wasn’t having it, quick-whistling the game’s best closer in the tightest of games. Gutsy call there, huh?

Jackson’s going with Fish, Sasha, Walton (in for Kobe), Lamar and Pau.

0:32.1 Boris Diaw. For three. Wow. Odom had helped off Diaw onto the driving Felton, and Boris made him pay.

0:06.8 After Okafor stripped the ball from Gasol in the lane, Walton and Vujacic scrapped in the paint to somehow force the Bobcats to knock it out of bounds, giving L.A. the ball back for a chance at the final shot. Who’s going to take it? They went to Pau with the tough-defending Emeka that time, and could go there again and be rewarded. But what a time for Bryant to be sitting on the bench…

Instead, Jackson took Pau off the floor in favor of Bynum, and Walton threw the inbounds pass away. Who else but Diaw got his hands on the pass, which was heading for Odom, though admittedly dangerous, and the Bobcats quickly called a timeout with 4.8 seconds on the clock.

0:00 Seriously? A fantastic defensive play from Odom, draped all over Diaw. Boris had received the inbounds pass, spun to face the hoop and found himself doubled by Walton. He spun again, and Odom simply swallowed the attempted shot in his hands to force another overtime.

L.A.’s going to have to do it without Kobe. Who’s going to step up?

Double Overtime
Your lineups for double OT:
Lakers: Fish, Farmar, Vujacic, Odom and Bynum
Cats: Felton, Bell, Brown, Diaw and Okafor

4:28 After a huge Bynum swat and another Bobcats miss, Odom didn’t get a hand on the rebound and Brown stuck in a bucket. Bynum quickly answered at the other end to knot things at 105.

3:38 There’s ‘Drew again with a swat, his fifth, to go with 19 points and 14 boards. At the other end, Bynum cleverly worked his way from the free throw line all the way to the hoop for a dunk. Make that 21 points.

2:59 The answer from Bell, on a jumper, to tie it right back up.

2:33 Farmar missed a three to give Charlotte a chance at the lead, which Brown took with a baseline three.

2:00 Odom missed his patented drive to the left, too hard off the glass, but Bynum swatted away Felton’s drive to get possession back for the Lakers.

1:29 Vujacic, going for the tie, missed the three. Charlotte in good shape, particularly after Okafor hit two free throws after Farmar fouled him down low to make it a 112-107 Bobcats lead.

1:06 Well, even if L.A. doesn’t come back, Bynum’s been an absolute destructive force in the overtime. His latest contribution was an and-1 shot over Okafor to make it a two-point game.

0:47.5 Okafor, baseline jumper. Four-point game.

0:31.9 Bynum finally missed after another nice move on the block, and Odom eventually fouled Felton seven seconds later. Both free throws were good, and the Bobcats led by six.

0:15.9 That’ll do it. Both Fisher and Vujacic missed deep shots, the second of which Okafor grabbed before making 1-of-2 free throws for a 117-110 lead.

OK, sure, the Lakers really missed Bryant down the stretch, but Bynum’s performance in the clutch, even in a losing effort was quite impressive. The bottom line is that Charlotte deserved to win the game by playing better for the first 48 minutes. Only two uber-clutch threes from Fisher and Bryant, plus five missed free throws allowed overtime in the first place. That L.A. couldn’t then protect a six-point lead in the first OT might merely be a testament to Charlotte’s mettle. So if you’re the Lakers, just tip your cap to the Bobcats, and play harder in the first three quarters next time you see ‘em.