Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday night contest at Charlotte, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Nash, Bryant, World Peace, Clark and Howard
Bobcats: K. Walker, G. Henderson, M. Kidd-Gilchrist, B. Mullens, B. Biyombo
9:17 Far few times this season have we seen a simple screen/roll from Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, with the big man often preferring to post up instead of set a solid screen and crash into the paint, but he did just that on this occasion and predictably was rewarded with a two-handed dunk at the rim, with L.A. down by one in the early moments.
0:00 Unfortunately for the Lakers, the lack of energy and full effort or effectiveness from Boston carried over into this one, and Charlotte took advantage by taking a 30-20 lead out of the first quarter. The Lakers turned it over seven times, hit only 8 of 21 shots and were out-boarded 15-10. Not what Mike D’Antoni had in mind.
5:53 L.A. fell behind by as many as 11 once again early in the period, before fighting back to within five after consecutive and-1′s near the rim from Howard. The big man had been quiet on both ends before those hoops, but after the second came over for a nice weak side block on the other end. Nonetheless, L.A. continued to allow some good looks to Charlotte, who led 41-33 after two free throws from Nash (Lakers in the bonus).
2:13 Nash gave L.A. a rare fast break bucket by taking it all the way to the rim for a layup, cutting what had grown to a 13-point lead moments earlier to 10, but the ‘Cats had already amassed 14 fast break points and 30 points in the paint. At the half, the margin was 13.
10:15 Instead of finding renewed fire out of the halftime gate, L.A. allowed six quick points to the ‘Cats and got only a put-back layup from World Peace, as the deficit grew to 16 at 59-43. If they were going to make a push, it had better start soon…
5:26 … but it did not, as the lead grew to 20 on two Walker free throws, Howard picking up his fourth foul and heading over to the bench. Bryant, who didn’t score in the first half for the sixth time in his career, had a bucket and two foul shots, but the team cohesion remained poor on both ends. The Lakers absolutely couldn’t buy a triple, missing seven straight in the quarter, and 3 of 19 in the game. Jodie Meeks was 2 for 2, Clark having the only other make in four attempts, with MWP and Nash both 0 for 4. MWP has been the biggest culprit in terms of missing threes, but Bryant had converted only one of his last 25 dating back a few weeks.
2:18 But since Howard went to the bench, the Lakers suddenly found something, rolling off a 13-2 run to trim the 20-point lead to just nine at 73-64. Meeks hit his third three, Nash his first in five attempts, and Clark did much damage towards his team-high 14 points with eight assists. Meeks, Clark and Jamison were all key with simple effort off the bench. Nine would be the margin heading into the final quarter (78-69), the Lakers back into it.
7:45 The lead was cut to as few as three when Jamison pulled up for a long two, which made it 81-78, the Lakers still rolling along. Meeks had 11 points and two assists, and Blake had been very good distributing the ball off the pine, with four assists to his name. Howard came in for a weak side block, his second of the game, after the team had done much of its work when he was on the bench. They’d certainly need his A game to come all the way back for a win.
4:46 Lakers lead? Yup, the massive run continued as Jamison scored in the paint, putting the team that was down 20 suddenly up one at 84-83. The D has really stepped up, with Bryant swatting Sessions and then Howard helping to force an air ball on the next trip, and after the exchange of four points, Nash put the Lakers up two with a three inside of four minutes… stay tuned.
3:02 The second straight big triple in the final moments came from Meeks, who buried his fourth of the game, putting the Lakers up a point after Charlotte had scored four straight. The lead was pushed to three when Kobe hit an 11-foot bank shot from the baseline, moments after Byron Mullens committed offensive goaltending on the other end. Kobe added two foul shots after another defensive stop keyed by a nice rotation from Howard, creating a 5-point margin with 1:29 left.
0:40.4 For yet another possession, weak side help D from Howard helped the Lakers get a stop, and it was Bryant, again, scoring in transition off Nash’s seventh assist to put the Lakers up 98-93, countering a layup from Sessions at the 1:14 mark. Two more Kobe points (he scored the last eight to reach 20, all in the second half) created the final margin of 100-93, L.A. finishing an impressive 31-15 fourth quarter to erase what had grown to as much as a 20-point lead. It was hugely important, as it turned around what had been six straight poor quarters of basketball, getting the Lakers back to the team that had played so well in winning six of seven games. Up next is a challenge at Miami on Sunday, the defending champs looking for a season sweep, and the Lakers hoping to finish the Grammy road trip 5-2 with a victory. We’ll see you there.