Bobcats Lose Close Game In LA


Bobcats Charlotte Bobcats at Lakers , 2.4.10

Lakers-99 Bobcats-97

AP Recap | Box Score

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The End of The Road

Wednesday night’s game against the Lakers marked the end of a long road trip through the West for the Charlotte Bobcats. The LA Lakers had just returned home from an East Coast swing, and a loss to the surging Memphis Grizzlies two nights earlier. Going into the game, Bobcats fans could only hope that Gerald Wallace would put together another star caliber performance to fuel Charlotte’s 4th straight win on the Lakers homecourt. Everyone expected Kobe Bryant to have a huge scoring night, with the Cats defense as the only weapon available to keep them in the game.

Well, the game ended up playing out a bit differently than anticipated. Hours before tip-off, Gerald Wallace was ruled out with a strained hamstring. Stephen Graham was placed into the starting line-up and it looked like that match up would give Kobe way too much of an edge. Remarkably, Kobe Bryant wasn’t much of a presence at all against the Bobcats. This was likely the result of early game strategy and an awkward injury late in the 2nd quarter. Charlotte’s Stephen Jackson did assert himself in this one, though. Jackson showed what the Bobcats had been lacking during that “missing offense” stretch that started the season –  an “alpha male” to take the lead role. “Jack” totaled 30 points, and kept former teammate Ron Artest to 14 on the night.

Bryant’s slow first quarter and the Bobcats steady counter-punches set the game at a pace that wouldn’t allow LA to take control. Both teams worked the ball inside-out, with Charlotte choosing to drive the lanes while the Lakers stayed with their proven formula of spacing by perimeter shooting.

Impact Players

The big men for both clubs were major influencers throughout the game. Boris Diaw was in early foul trouble, never found his rhythm, and ended the game with 0% shooting (mostly from the three point line). Still, the Cats competed from start to finish with the help of a line up shaped on the fly. Without Wallace and Diaw, Charlotte used Gana Diop to pair with Nazr Mohammed for the first time all year. This could have spelled disaster, but it actually worked out immediately. On one offensive possession in the 1st, there was a “Diop-to-Mohammed” moment for a lay in. Nazr’s strong play on the offensive end was complimented by Diop’s work on the boards and defense. Gana was hustling and it was like watching the re-emergence of Mohammed all over again. It’s hard to believe that this guy had been hidden on the bench for so long. Of course, he did bring his game down to earth with a “Classic Diop” airball freethrow.

On the other side of the court, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum showed that they are a championship tandem. There’s really no other team with such strong players at the 4 an 5 positions. Charlotte was fortunate to get great games from Mohammed and Diop to match their impact. Bynum had his way in the paint from start-to-finish. Oddly, he chose to practice his hook shot against the Cats. Luckily, his hook is still a work in progress. LA’s bench was strong, as usual. Reserves Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown really pushed their team during Bryant’s absence.

Overall, the Bobcats point guards had a strong outing against Old Man Fisher and Jordan Farmar. Raymond Felton came out of the gate focused and full of energy. He closed the first quarter shooting 4 of 6, with one of those being a cross-court heave at the buzzer. DJ Augustin stepped into the game and kept the same pattern of attack, scoring 6 quick and finding his teammates inside and out. Felton’s strong showing benefitted him late in the game, as he carried the ball and likely stepped out of bounds with 10 seconds left and the Cats down by 3. Fortunately, it appears that the refs will give you the benefit of the doubt when you play a good game and the pace quickens. Refs have missed worse things in the past.

Closing Time

With those 10 seconds left, the Bobcats worked out a three-point play during a time out.  But, the Cats gave away their opportunity to tie on a sloppy inbounds pass from Stephen Jackson to Raymond Felton. The Lakers slapped the ball away from Raymond and Jordan Farmar took the ball on a fast break to increase the lead to 5. Flip Murray hit a long 3 quickly, but only 1 second remained on the clock and LA held on for a 99-97 win.

The end was a heartbreaker, but the rest game was a great showing of the progress the Bobcats have made. With no contributions from Diaw, Wallace out with an injury, and Tyson Chandler missing his 22nd consecutive game, Larry Brown’s “system” looked like it was fully functional against an elite team. Kobe Bryant only put in 5 points and was barely on the court during the 2nd half. So comparatively, this game was about the cavalry for each squad. Beyond having the best player in basketball on their roster, the Lakers are doing fairly well with Ron Artest, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom. Charlotte’s supporting cast of Stephen Jackson, Raymond Felton, and Flip Murray are the kind of guys that could maybe form an opening band for stadium headliners like the Lakers.

Final Notes:

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson became the winningest coach of all-time, ever in the history of the NBA, as we know it today.  More on that here.

Lamar Odom took control of the game at the end of the 3rd and showed his full range of skills, inside-and-out, with Kobe on the bench in the 4th

Coach Brown went for a no-tie, LA look on the sidelines. Gerald Wallace looks horrible in a suit. Tyson Chandler, on the other hand, is accustomed to dressing well courtside.

Flip Murray can hit some shots, but he’s a black hole on offense. Once he gets the ball, guys stop moving because they know they aren’t getting it back. His lazy defense made Stephen Graham’s stong coverage look even better.

Shannon Brown rose up on a fast-break dunk at some type of hyper-speed. He hops so quickly, it’s like he’s in fast forward. Gerald’s going to have to pull out something big to beat Brown in the dunk contest this year.

Jordan Farmar seems to suffer from Kendrick Perkins Syndrome : They think that they have something to do with the great teams that they’re playing on. When LA’s offense is clicking, Farmar will get an open look or an easy lay up. Like the Celtic’s Perkins, he acts as if he accomplished this all by himself. I’d like to see how amped up either of those guys would be playing for the Nets or the T-Wolves.

Basketball Karma?


Basketball Karma Affects the LA Lakers

Karma is action, and Vipaka, fruit or result, is its reaction.  Within four days, quite a bit happened.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ Andrew Bynum just received word that his knee injury will keep him out for over two months.  Andrew Bynum was hugely responsible for sending Gerald Wallace to the hospital for the majority of last week, so it’s going to be tough to feel bad for the guy.  Bynum’s injury occurred when Kobe Bryant crashed into him after a driving miss against Memphis on Saturday night.  From the video, it appears that Bynum failed to react before Bryant came down into his leg.  He was simply in the wrong spot at the wrong time.  Was this some type of universal calibration of the basketball world back into balance?

As an NBA fan, it’s not good to see anyone get hurt.  So, let’s just hope Gerald Wallace returns to form and Bynum can bounce back by the end of the season, as well.

Phil Jackson should understand and accept the universe at work with his roster.  Perhaps, there are only so many championship rings one can carry with them along the journey of life.  It appeared during pre-game warmups that Bynum had worked out the hitch in his Ch’i and the injury was mostly due to the misalignment of Kobe Bryant’s chakras while going to the hoop.  Although, Jackson was unavailable for comment, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama responded via text message that “a quality Center is necessary to the two concurrent triangles that exist in LA’s version of the Triangle Offense.”* Gerald Wallace’s absence nearly eliminates the Bobcat’s hopes of a Playoff berth, but the Lakers will desperately need Bynum back if they want to contend for another NBA Title.

*Not at all factual


Wallace Seriously Injured By Bynum, Hospitalized in L.A.


Phil Jackson draws up a play to eliminate Gerald Wallace

The Charlotte Bobcats experienced both their biggest win and their biggest loss of the season in Los Angeles last night.  While driving into the lane, Gerald Wallace extended his body and leaped toward the hoop, when he was hit with an elbow directly into his exposed ribs and upper chest.  Andrew Bynum was the culprit, and he made no effort to check on the health of Wallace after delivering the cheap shot that sent him to the floor.  Bynum may have simply made a mistake trying to foul an airborne G-Force, but a 7 footer can’t be forgiven for throwing an elbow like that.  While Bynum might be young, he’s big enough to foul like a real center or just get out of the way.

Andrew Bynum Is A Horrible Human Being

The initial word this morning is that Wallace was hospitalized after leaving the game last night.  He was helped back to the locker room by trainers and teammates, but the news about his stay at an LA hospital was not made public until this morning.  The most concerning headlines state that he may have suffered a collapsed lung due to the hit and fall he took from Bynum’s intentional foul.

The big question right now is the health of Gerald Wallace.  Secondly, can the team push on without him for a stretch?  Thirdly, will Bynum be fined or suspended for his actions?  And lastly – did Phil Jackson call for someone to knock Wallace out of the game?

Actually, it’s necessary to ask this about Phil Jackson – Zen master or Sensei?

Did Jackson order Bynum to “sweep the leg” and eliminate the Bobcat’s greatest threat last night?  With a huge 1st quarter, Gerald owned the Lakers and didn’t let up until he had to sit out the second quarter with back spasms.  Late into the third, #3 began to pick up and resume his game all over Pau Gasol.  Then, as it looked like the Cats would pull away in the fourth, the horrendous foul and injury stopped their momentum and the Lakers seemed to show no concern over the issue.

Bobcats Baseline will keep everyone posted on the news related to Gerald Wallace and status of his health over the next few days.

Meanwhile, the Lakers hit the road after sending the Bobcats best player to the hospital. . .

Phil Jackson rides by hospital


Charlotte Bobcats @ Lakers 1/27/09


1.  Lots of drama out on the West Coast, as the Bobcats beat the Lakers in double OT, 117-100.  AP story here, box score here.  The Bobcats have now defeated the Lakers five out of the last six times they’ve matched up, and move to 1-1 on the current road trip and 19-26 overall.

2.  Quick television notes: this one was picked up by NBATV, giving Charlotte their first nationally televised game of the regular season (we did have a preseason game with the Lakers televised by TNT back in October).  I’m actually watching in HD on FSN Carolinas HD — the first time I’ve been able to see one of these HD telecasts on Time Warner.  Looks great, wish all the road games were in HD like this.

3.  Since this one’s a 10:30 PM ET start, I’m going to be writing as the game goes.  Nice pregame show with lots of comments from Raja Bell about guarding Kobe, a confident Juwan Howard essentially predicting a victory, and lots of talk about the Bobcats spirited performances against the Lakers in the past.

Speaking of, ever since Ari dissed the Cats, it hasn’t gone so well for the Lakers against us.

4.  First quarter is a good one for the Cats, as the starters play well and get out to a 23-16 lead.  All five starters scored, with Gerald Wallace playing particularly well.  Crash was very aggressive going to the basket, getting 10 points on 4 layups and a dunk.  The Lakers, meanwhile, were flat and oddly out of synch.  Kobe was 0-4, but Bynum was strong, going for 10 points/7 rebounds in the quarter.

5.  The second quarter saw the Lakers roar back, doubling their first quarter output and cutting the Bobcats lead to 49-48.  Kobe heated up and scored 12 in the quarter,  Bell had a rough sequence guarding him midway through the quarter, picking up three fouls in less than a minute.

The Cats second unit of Sean Singletary, Shannon Brown, Adam Morrison, Juwan Howard and Gana Diop saw significant minutes in the quarter (though always with one of the starters — never all together) and didn’t totally crap the bed, so that’s something.  Gerald Wallace came out early in the quarter and didn’t come back due to back spasms — he briefly came back to the bench with a heating pad on, but then left for the locker room again.  Hopefully this is just a minor thing…

Tough ending to the quarter: with a little over a minute left, Diaw gets a steal from Bynum, and the Bobcats run out for a fast break, which ends with a beautiful Raymond-to-Shannon alley-oop for a 47-40 lead.  However, the Lakers quickly went back the other way, and found Gasol back cherry-picking behind Morrison.  Adam tried to foul, but caught Gasol awkwardly on the arm/head as he slipped in the dunk.  Flagrant foul, Gasol hits the free throw, then Kobe hits a jumper for a 5 point possession.  Ouch.

6.  Wallace is back out for the third quarter and looking fine.  Ariza apparently suffered a concussion at some point in the first half and won’t be returning — I didn’t catch that at all.  Anyways, strong third quarter for the starters again, Felton in particular.  Adam Morrison punctuated things with a tough three pointer on the Bobcats last possession to push the lead out to 76-70.

7.  Fourth quarter begins with a bang, as Shannon hits a tough three to extend the lead to 79-70.  However, things get stagnant and we’re still stuck on 79 several minutes later.  Gerald picks up offensive fouls on two straight possessions, then a technical arguing the second one, so the Lakers cut it to 79-78.  Diop gets a tip in to stop the bleeding for the Bobcats.  Midway through the quarter, and the Cats and Lakers are playing even-up basketball.  Crucial stretch comes with just under five minutes left, when Boris Diaw goes on a little personal run to bump the Bobcats out to a 90-83 lead.

Then a killer: Crash has an open lane to the basket and takes off, only to be met by Andrew Bynum.  Bynum’s a bit late closing off the lane, and throws a brutal elbow right to Gerald’s exposed ribs as he was lifting towards the basket.  Gerald goes down in a heap, stays down, and has to leave the game.  Flagrant foul on Bynum gives us two free throws and the ball, but Raja Bell blows both free throws.  On the next possesion, Diaw gets fouled but also misses both of his free throws.  Meanwhile, Kobe is taking over with seven straight points, then an assist to Derek Fisher for a huge three pointer that ties the game with 15 seconds left.  WIth the game on the line, you know who’s taking the shot for the Bobcats: Raymond Felton.  Ray shakes free for a decent look at a 20 footer at the buzzer, but misses short and we’re off to overtime.  Five missed free throws in the final minute of regulation — ugh…

8.  Overtime begins ominously, with the LA crowd buzzing and the Lakers looking sharp in scoring the first 6 points of the period.  Bobcats battle back, though, and down three with forty seconds left, Shannon Brown induces Kobe’s sixth foul — DQ.  Diaw then gets a huge 3-pointer to tie the game at 103 with 30 seconds left.  Another missed, golden opportunity follows, as Okafor knocks the ball away from Gasol in the post and has a chance to come up with the ball, but it eventually squirts away out of bounds off the Bobcats with six seconds left. Miraculously, Diaw tips the inbounds away from Odom and Shannon Brown secures the steal, timeout Bobcats.  Five seconds left, inbounds to Diaw, who gets smothered by good Laker defense and barely even gets a shot up.  Double OT, Bobcats/Lakers, again.

9.  2nd OT, no Kobe, no Gerald Wallace.  Shannon Brown steps up huge for the Cats, with a putback, then a big three pointer.  But Bynum is big for the Lakers, and we’re at 112-110 Bobcats up with a minute left.  Okafor hits a clutch baseline 12-footer to go up 114-110, then forces a Bynum miss on the other end.  The Lakers are now forced to foul, and Felton hits both to push the lead to 116-110.  Okafor hits one more free throw to close the scoring, and the Bobcats win it 117-110.  Larry Brown gets treated like the old friend that he is to the Lakers celeb fans, getting congrats, hugs and handshakes courtside from Andy Garcia, Lou Adler, and Jack Nicholson.

10.  Phew!  What a game — so many solid individual performances tonight.  As usual, all of the Bobcats starters were solid.  Raymond Felton was one assist away from a triple-double: 22 pts/11 rebs/9 assists with only 2 turnovers.  Boris Diaw was one assist and one rebound away: 23 pts/9 rebs/9 assists.  And Shannon Brown was huge off the bench, with 14 points.  But the glow of this win will quickly fade, as the Bobcats will have to deal with Gerald Wallace’s rib injury and a tough back-to-back game against the Trailblazers on Wednesday night.

11.  Some postgame notes/links: The DJ Augustin injury has necessitated a quieting of all the Raymond Felton trade rumors; meanwhile Felton’s strong, steady recent play has had many Bobcats fans lamenting the seemingly inevitable trade.  But wait, Bonnell is now estimating that the probability Felton gets traded has dropped to about 30%.  I’m an unabashed Raymond Felton apologist, but not moving him while we can get something back for him would be a huge mistake.  Augustin is the future at PG, so we may as well hand over the keys now.  There are several teams that could use a PG like Felton down the stretch, so it would seem that we could get an interesting player or pick in exchange for him.  Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chad Ford estimates the chances of a Felton trade at 75%.