Charlotte Bobcats vs Lakers, 3/5/10
The Charlotte Bobcats defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 98-83 in front of a packed house at the Cable Box on Friday night. AP recap here, box score here. With the win, the Bobcats avenged their loss to the Lakers in LA earlier this season and continue their mastery over the elite squad — the Cats have now won 7 of their last 9 against the Lakers. More importantly, the victory keeps the Cats in the hunt for the Eastern Conference playoffs, one game behind 8th place Miami.
The Lakers held a modest lead through most of the first quarter; the Cats overtook them in the second and steadily built on the lead through the third and fourth as the Lakers faded. Stephen Jackson led the Cats in scoring with 21 points on 7-14 FG.
This was a weird game for numerous reasons. First, the Lakers looked spent and/or disinterested. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say it was spent, after an overtime loss in Miami on Thursday night. Kobe played well enough (9-21 FG for 26 points) but didn’t get any help from his supporting cast — the rest of the team shot 34%.
Then, though it was a packed house on a Friday night against a superstar and his elite team, the energy in the arena was just a bit off. It was as if all the Kobe/Laker fans were infected with the same malaise that seemed to infect Pau Gasol (5-14 FG, 3 turnovers), Ron Artest (1-9 FG), Shannon Brown (3-9 FG, 3 turnovers) and Lamar Odom (4 turnovers). Meanwhile, Bobcats fans appear to be in a mixed state of anxiety and straight-up confusion: Is this a playoff team or not? 3-1 vs the Cavs, beating the Lakers down, but losing two to the Nets? Wha?
Perhaps the strangest development was seeing Gerald Henderson on the floor. The first round draft pick has been languishing on the bench, looking not-ready-for-prime-time in his brief appearances. But tonight, Gerald played 12 minutes — including an important stretch spent guarding Kobe Bryant in the second quarter — and looked good. He jacked up 7 shots, hit 3, and added 2 rebounds, a steal and a block and no turnovers. Maybe it was just because Stephen Jackson got into foul trouble guarding Kobe, maybe Larry Brown could sense that he needed to tweak the rotations as the Cats had gone stale over the past couple of weeks, maybe Henderson’s been showing signs of “getting it” in practice recently. Whatever the reason, it was great to see him out there contributing.
- Surreal moment during pregame warmups when Lamar Odom came over to Ric Flair courtside for an enthusiastic exchange of dap. And you have the marvel at Charlotte’s relationship with the Nature Boy — less than two weeks after his wife was arrested after a “domestic incident” at his house, the Bobcats dragged him out to center court to cut a promo before the fourth quarter to a chorus of “whooo”s . That’s our Naitch.
- Tyson Chandler was active for the first time in weeks and acquitted himself nicely with 6 points (2-2 FG, 2-2 FT), 4 rebounds and a block in 15 minutes of relief of Theo Ratliff. Then again, it’s sad when I’m handing out compliments to a player who’s making $12 million for 15 decent minutes.
- Tyrus Thomas continues to impress: 7-12 FG for 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2 more blocks. This guy is a keeper.
- DJ had another of his patented “every dozen games or so, I’ll play great so you think I’m breaking out of my sophomore slump” games: 5-8 FG for 12 points, 5 assists and 2 steals in 22 minutes.
- Adam Morrison played a few minutes for the Lakers — when he checked in in the second quarter, he actually got booed. Not sure I can get behind that. Then, during garbage minutes in the fourth, the crowd was egging him on to shoot every time he touched the ball. He didn’t oblige Thank goodness, because it sure felt snarky — like egging on the mentally challenged team manager who gets to dress out on senior night to shoot, so that you can guffaw if he misses or get a cheap thrill if he happens to make it. Anyways, I hope Ammo finds some peace playing overseas next year, or maybe on the professional XBox 360 circuit.
- Next game is Saturday night against Steph Curry and the Warriors in a rare home-home back-t0-back. Tipoff is at 7:00 PM ET as usual — I’ll be there and tweeting.