Lakers – Bobcats Running Diary

57096669Read about the Lakers vs. Bobcats games as it unfolds. As 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.

Previous Lakers – Bobcats Running Diary/Postgame
Lakers 110, Bobcats 117 (Double OT): Postgame
Lakers – Bobcats Running Diary 1-27-2009

Inactives
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
Bobcats: Alexis Ajinca, Dontell Jefferson, Sean Singletary

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Ariza, Odom and Gasol
Bobcats: Raymond Felton, Raja Bell, Gerald Wallace, Boris Diaw, Emeka Okafor

Phil Pregame
You can listen to Phil defend Andrew Bynum and talk about Michael Jordan in our previous post.

First Quarter
12:00 A Bobcats staffer who’s an old buddy of mine told me that this could be the “Biggest game in Bobcats history.” First of all, if Charlotte wins, it’d be the most wins in franchise history (34). Secondly, they’re in the ninth spot in the East, just two games behind the Chicago Bulls. Third, it’s the Lakers. What’s interesting about that fact (or opinion) is that this is, who knows, the 6,749th most important game in Lakers history? That said, if L.A. doesn’t play like it’s important, they’ll have a tough time winning.

Gasol11:25 You just knew Bryant was going to be aggressive today, with reports that he stayed late after yesterday’s practice and was very early to the arena today. Sure enough, a pull up jumper in transition quickly put L.A. up 4-0 after two Ariza free throws. By the way, if you’re in Charlotte, make sure to check out the “Epicenter,” which is a brand new food/shopping development just a few blocks from the arena. It pleased me yesterday.

9:35 Falling down 6-0, the ‘Cats quickly made three straight shots to even the score. Bryant continued to be aggressive, but missed his next three shots…

6:40 But more importantly, the Lakers didn’t allow Charlotte to outwork them in the first half of the first quarter, settling on a 10-10 tie. By the way, 6,749 would mean 82 seasons worth of basketball (regular season only), so we may have been aggressive on that guesstimate. Sorry Charlotte … I did complement your Epicenter, for what it’s worth.

5:29 Remember when Andrew Bynum fouled G. Wallace pretty hard in L.A., inciting some nasty Charlotte columns and a fan base (check the running diary link at the top to read more about it)? Two consecutive finishes at the rim from Wallace showed that he remembered … Well, that, or he had an open lane to the rim. Meanwhile, Bryant continued to struggle with his J (2-of-7) as the ‘Cats jumped up 18-15. Back to Wallace – he still chomps on the tip of his mouthguard, letting the rest of it hang several inches out of his mouth.

2:45 Former Bobcat Shannon Brown checked into the game, perhaps a surprise at first until you remember that no one knows Charlotte’s personnel better than him.

0:32.5 Lamar Odom for three … Again? Odom’s second triple of the first quarter bailed the Lakers out after a good defensive possession from the Bobcats. L.O. didn’t wait long to contribute again after that, tipping in Luke Walton’s near miss to cap a personal 5-0 that brought L.A. within one, 25-24, at the quarter break. L.A. needed Odom’s efficiency, as Bryant hit only 3-of-10 shots

Second Quarter
12:00 Congrats to Charlotte for closing in fast on “Quietest support in a sellout” honors, alongside “Worst Jumbotron Ad.” They copied the NBA commercials “Where Amazing Happens,” closing with “Where the best fans in the NBA happen” to a deafening silence, followed by “Where beating the Lakers … Again … Happens.”

OdomMeanwhile, Vladimir Radmanovic checked in for Charlotte, and moments later committed a charge on Walton.

8:32 Speaking of Luke … He’s been quite efficient lately, huh? Against Atlanta, he was 3-of-4; 2-of-3 @ New Jersey; 1-of-2 @ Detroit; 5-of-6 at Oklahoma City; 2-of-4 at Chicago; and 4-of-6 vs. Golden State. Tonight, his second field goal in three attempts put L.A. up two, before Gasol’s baby hook made it 34-32.

6:50 The best player on the court tonight, however, wasn’t Walton but Odom, who pulled in his eighth board after putting back Walton’s miss to get to a game high 14 points, without the benefit of a rest. Then, after a Radmanovic triple, Odom rejected a potential momentum-shifting layup from Felton.

4:54 Your stat of the game so far: L.A. had outrebounded Charlotte 7-1 on the offensive glass, and 22-15 overall. Yet, that didn’t stop Vladi from taking advantage of an overplay by driving to the hoop and dunking uncontested, narrowing L.A.’s lead to one.

2:55 As the crowd (19,568, the largest crowd in the building’s four-year history) continued it’s relative dead silence, Felton bricked 1-of-2 free throws as Ty Nowell AIM’d me: “Maybe if the Lakers came out in Duke jerseys, it’d rile the crowd up.” That might help Kobe break from his 3-of-12 shooting slump as well, since he’s a Coach K guy.

0:34.3 Bryant hit in the lane and Gasol from the elbow to put L.A. up 44-43 at halftime. All-in-all, it was a pretty decent defensive half from the Lakers, and a great half on the glass. L.A. made only 20-of-51 shots (39.2 percent), pushed primarily from Kobe’s 4-of-14, Gasol’s below average 4-of-9 and a 2-of-10 collective effort from the bench. Odom (6-of-11) and Fisher (2-of-2) joined Walton (2-of-4) as the only Lakers at 50 percent or higher

The player L.A. had the most trouble guarding was Wallace, who logged out of the half with 12 points, seven boards and four dimes, his athleticism giving the Lakers problems as it has the rest of the league of late.

Halftime Show: Red Panda … Again
I just set a world record for “Most Times One Person Has Witnessed the Red Panda’s Act.” I’d like to thank my parents, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers for helping me accomplish this honor. It never would have been possible without you guys.

Third Quarter
11:08 Odom picked up right where he left off in the first, slashing to the hoop and flushing a Gasol pass down the toilet, er, basket.

JordanBryant, unfortunately, picked up where he left off as well by missing a perimeter J, then coming up short on a drive. Clearly, he’s trying to get back into a rhythm. The other side of the ball, however, looked good for Bryant and Col, as the Lakers forced Charlotte into consecutive 24-second violations.

7:50 Wallace’s layup was Charlotte’s first hoop since the opening seconds of the half, and found L.A. up 50-47. Scoring more than Charlotte right now: Jim Levenstein in the original “American Pie.

5:25 Will that be what gets him going? Taking his 18th shot of the game with Michael Jordan sitting courtside, Bryant canned a triple for his 6th make.

4:33 OK, there’s zero doubt that Bryant just hit that one for MJ. Kobe’s second straight triple from the corner produced a blown kiss and tongue-wag over in Jordan’s direction, and gave L.A. its biggest lead at 60-53. KCAL caught Jordan smiling from his seat on the end of Charlotte’s bench, and suggests that MJ may have had something to say about Bryant’s slow shooting start.

3:14 That momentary breathing room lasted little more than a minute, as Charlotte reeled off eight straight points to take a one-point lead. The Lakers suffered a few tough calls, including Odom’s fourth foul on the offensive end and a reach in on Bryant (two free throws).

1:44 After L.A. answered with three points, the Bobcats scored five of their own to open a 66-63 lead as the crowd finally got involved in the contest, spurred by a corner three from rookie D.J. Augustin.

The quarter ended with the Bobcats holding a 68-64 lead, thanks to a 15-4 spurt that followed Bryant’s back-to-back triples.

Fourth Quarter
10:53 L.A.’s second unit got destroyed, if only for a minute, by a pumped up Bobcats’ bench. Walton got his pocket picked (Felton layup), shot blocked (Augustin missed layup) and Farmar his pass picked off (Augustin layup) to quickly produce a 72-64 lead, forcing a Jackson timeout. On the floor with those two Lakers were Gasol, Powell and Vujacic.

9:59 Give Walton credit for atoning for his mistakes, first in the form of a driving layup, and then in forcing a ‘Cats turnover.

Wallace8:47 And there are the Kobe fans. A large ovation from the collected star lovers welcomed Kobe’s jumper upon his entrance. Joining KB were Fisher and Odom, replacing Vujacic, Powell and Farmar. Vujacic and Powell really struggled, combining to shoot 0-of-7 from the field.

6:27 Everybody’s playing hard now. Another hoop from Bryant and a Gasol dunk off Odom’s pretty pass cut a 10-point lead to six and forced a Larry Brown timeout. I’m not sure whether it was the roar from Lakers fans that got the home fans going, but the palpable energy on both sides was finally apparent. Meanwhile, Detroit took a 69-67 lead over Cleveland on an Allen Iverson layup (he’s finally back).

5:56 Luke’s been very good this quarter, this time driving to the hoop, drawing the defense and dropping off to Gasol for a dunk. Pau picked it up at the other end by swatting Augustin’s shot, and the lead fell to two as Bryant spun to the rim and finished. Credit some terrific defense from the starters for the comeback.

4:15 Man, do the Bobcats love messing with the Lakers. After Augustin got lucky with a bounce, Bell hit a 25-foot three to push the lead right back to seven, and Jackson took a timeout.

3:33 After Bryant’s three-point attempt rimmed out, Wallace went to the rack and converted, putting L.A. in a nine-point hole at 87-78, just as the Cavs took a three-point lead on Detroit with three minutes to play.

By the way, anyone notice that the Lakers were only given six free throws, two of which were technicals? Odd, but alas, game over.

0:16.9 A layup from Vujacic and Shannon Brown leaner were the first bench points for L.A. outside of Walton’s 3-for-9 performance, and they didn’t matter as Charlotte’s 11-0 run had buried the game.

One more game, in Milwaukee on Wednesday night, and it’ll finally be time for the Lakers to head back to Los Angeles. Check back momentarily for the postgame.