Clad in dark blue and orange, the ‘Cats strode into STAPLES with a newfound swagger, employing the old Larry Brown method that had produced five wins in seven games of consistent defensive effort. Yet and still, did anyone in attendance really give the visitors a chance, even if Charlotte had beaten L.A. four of the last five times they’d met?
They certainly should have.
Charlotte controlled the game from the outset, riding their superior team energy to ultimately win in double overtime (L.A.’s first OT game this season) after nearly giving the game away by missing five free throws in an entirely dramatic final two minutes.
Their head coach couldn’t have been happier.
“That was a heck-of-a-win,” said Brown. “It was a heck-of-a-performance. We made it tough on ourselves missing free throws down the stretch but in overtime it was pretty neat. And then we had a lot of guys that really stepped up.”
And so they did, namely two players that both narrowly missed triple-doubles: Boris Diaw (23 points, nine boards, nine assists) and Raymond Felton (21 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists).
Even so, L.A. had it’s fair share of chances to win, thanks to fourth quarter heroics from Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, and overtime dominance from Andrew Bynum, who completed his fourth-straight outstanding effort with 24 points, 14 boards and a season-high seven blocks. Here’s how it went down…
Clutch threes first from Bryant and second Fisher, the latter with 14 seconds left on the clock – tied the game at 93 and forced the first overtime. Then the Lakers built a six-point lead and looked to be running away with the game before the ‘Cats battled back, ultimately tying the game on a Boris Diaw three 32 seconds left to force a second overtime.
In that second OT, the Lakers were without Bryant, who fouled out on a touch foul with 39.8 left in OT1, while the Bobcats had been without Gerald Wallace, who left the game late in the fourth after a hard foul by Bynum. It was Bynum to whom the Lakers turned to carry them offensively, and that he did, making 3-of-4 shots and his only free throw for all seven Lakers points in the second extra session. Bynum was also outstanding defensively, blocking three shots as his confidence soared, but the Bobcats simply wouldn’t be denied as they out-rebounded the Lakers 6-1 and made 5-of-6 free throws to seal the win.
“We were fortunate to get back in the game, they had to miss foul shots for us to get back in the ballgame and so you know we really almost stole the ballgame,” said Phil Jackson. “But we should have won and so I think sometimes justice prevails and I think that happened tonight”.
Indeed, if you’re the Lakers, you simply tip your cap to the Bobcats, and play harder in the first three quarters next time you see ‘em. Sometimes in the NBA, the effort level simply isn’t there on a given night, and it’s hard to flip a switch when another team doesn’t drop it’s shoulders in the least. We certainly saw that take place on this Tuesday evening, which is perhaps a good message for L.A. to learn the hard way heading into a six-game road trip that concludes in Boston and Cleveland.
A few numbers:
Points in the paint for the Bobcats, compared with juts 38 for the Lakers.
Points for Kobe Bryant on 15-of-28 shooting, including 26 points in the second half and first overtime.
Three-point percentage for L.A., who couldn’t find the range in double overtime (0-for-4) after seeing Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant hit two big ones down the stretch in regulation.
Charlotte’s edge on the glass, 53-42.
Blocks for the Lakers, led by seven from Andrew Bynum.