A trip to Charlotte is the best way the Lakers can get back on the right track, as the Bobcats are currently the worst team in the league with an 11-37 record. Both teams are coming off one of their worst losses of the season. Celtics ran the Lakers out of the Garden last night and the Cavs beat the Cats by 27 Wednesday.
Dwight wins the jump and Steve Nash starts the Lakers offense. The Lakers look to get Dwight Howard’s offense quickly started and he scores this game’s first points with a right hand baby hook. Lakers seem to be playing with energy and are showing solid defense. But sloppy play on offense leads to back to back lay-ups for the Bobcats. After a pair of free throws for Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Nash displayed his crafty game and shuffled the ball to Dwight for an emphatic dunk.
The Bobcats looked to get Mullens rhythm going as he hits the three. Another turnover for the Lakers leads to another easy basket for the Bobcats. Three of the Bobcats four field goals were points off turnovers.
Jamison, who is originally from Charlotte, was the first off the bench to replace Clark. To this point, the game had been fast paced and the Lakers needed to work hard with their transition defense. Nine of Charlotte’s 13 points were from fast-break points. Ex-Lakers Ramon Sessions entered the game, and the Bobcats were playing a small lineup with three guards. Sessions immediately contributed with a crafty lay-up.
The Lakers brought in Steve Blake and Jodie Meeks, who hit a three. Walker continued to take advantage of the Lakers’ slower guards with another crafty lay-up. Jamison came out after what looks like a twisted ankle. Jodie hit his second straight three, and brought the Lakers within six. World Peace and Mullens traded and-ones, and turnovers kept the Bobcats’ lead in double digits, 30-20.
Earl Clark started the second quarter strong with a block and strong dunk. Howard scored and was fouled by Biyombo deep inside the key. The next possession the Lakers go back to Dwight who gets back to back and-ones, and makes his second free throw. The two teams hit a drought over the next three minutes, and D’Antoni brought Nash and Bryant back into the game. However, Ben Gordon hit a straight-ahead bank shot and Henderson sinks a circus shot. The Lakers needed to find a way to stimulate their offense as the Bobcats continued to maintain their lead.
Ben Gordon continued to heat up and had seven points in six minutes. The turnover woes continued as Mullens hit a pair of free throws, a three, and Henderson threw down a dunk over Howard. A rerun of Thursday night’s game was looming over the Lakers’ heads. Kobe remained scoreless in the first half, taking just two shots in the first 24 minutes. Steve Nash decided to carry the offense as he got a rare fast-break lay-up followed by a three. Dwight made one of two free throws and Biyombo scored a tip in.
The half ened with the Lakers losing 53-41. In the second half the Lakers knew they would have to work on their turnovers. The only positive on the stat sheet was 8-11 from the free throw line. Dwight led the Lakers with 12 points and eight rebounds.
The Lakers needed to do a lot of things better in the second half. The first was lock-down defense individually and as a team. This led to less second chance opportunities for the Bobcats and a better flow on offense at the other end. Another key was taking care of the ball. The Lakers turned the ball over eleven times which lead to multiple Bobcat lay-ups. Kobe needed to make more of an impact in the second half. This is only the sixth time he has gone scoreless in the first half.
Charlotte was the aggressor starting the second half. Lakers continue their display of poor transition defense after a series of bricks. This led to a couple of layups and a Mullens dunk, and the Bobcats have their largest lead at 19, 64-45. Kobe looks to shoot coming out of D’Antoni’s timeout. After scoring his first points of the game, he created offense for his teammate as Earl Clark made an easy lay-up.
The Bobcats were not playing the best basketball, shooting 46% from the field, but the Lakers were playing worse. Dwight’s foul troubles continue as he picked up his fourth foul halfway through the third quarter. Earl Clark was one of the only one making cuts out of Kobe’s isolations and he was rewarded. The rest of the team seemed very lethargic as Meeks returned to the game early in the second half and made his third from beyond the arc.
Meeks and Clark were able to bring the deficit back down to 11 and spark some momentum for the Lakers. The deficit will be easier to manage in the fourth quarter if it is single digit. Earl Clark seemed to take this challenge on, as he scored 12 of his 17 points in the third quarter, and the quarter ended with the Lakers down by nine, 78-69.
The Lakers seemed to have tired legs down the stretch and may be looking forward to finally flying home. It is no surprise that the young legs on the Lakers roster have been picking up the slack and are shining in tonight’s game. Jodie Meeks made up for his turnover on the first possession by stealing the ball and hitting the jumper. The Lakers energy picked up and they had more fast break opportunities due to another Jodie Meeks steal and a Dwight Howard rejection. Metta World Peace looked to take advantage of his size over Sessions and brought the Cats lead to six.
Kobe came out of a Laker timeout with the Mamba face on and easily scored over and around Sessions. The Lakers were down by one after trailing by as much as 19 this game. The Bobcats foolishly isolated Sessions against Kobe whose blocked shot led to a Jamison jumper and a Laker lead, 84-83. Kemba easily beats the slower Nash for a lay-up, but mistakenly doubles Kobe one pass away from Nash who sinks a three pointer. The Lakers have been doing a better job taking care of the ball in the second half, but a crucial mistake lead to another lay-up.
The Lakers brought in Jodie Meeks, the fourth three point shooter on the floor. After a triple team on Kobe, the Lakers did a good job of moving the ball to a wide open Jodie Meeks for a lead-gaining three, 92-91.
With two and a half minutes left in the game, Kobe continued to abuse Sessions, extending the lead to three. Kobe, who was scoreless in the first half, proves he can turn his offense on at any time. “If Lakers score here the game will be over,” Stu Lantz predicts, as Kobe answered with two free-throws. At the one minute mark Sessions scored a lay-up, but Kobe returned the favor on a three on one break off a Dwight Howard block. The Lakers are up by five points, 98-93 with 40 seconds on the clock. The Bobcats looked for a three from Mullens, but Dwight played great defense. Without timeouts, the Bobcats were forced to foul, and the game expired with the Lakers hanging on to a 100-93 victory.