Bobcats 106, Lakers 97

As he has a couple of times this season, Phil Jackson brought up the fact Friday that he played on a championship team with the New York Knicks in the 1972-73 season that lost twice to a Philadelphia 76ers team that finished 9-73, the worst record in NBA history.

It’s a nice way of putting in perspective that any team can win on any given night in the NBA.

There are only a couple of problems with that statement. No. 1: The Knicks beat Philly six times that season and lost only once. No. 2: Nobody expects the 2006-07 Lakers to win an NBA title. No. 3: Come on, arent the Lakers are supposed to beat the freaking Charlotte Bobcats?

Not this season, at least. We know Jackson is never going to hear the end of the Bobcats season sweep if he happens to get a phone call Saturday from Michael Jordan, whos the managing member of basketball operations for the third-year franchise.

Give Jackson credit for being entertaining, even after a terrible loss. Here was his take on overtime, especially after Matt Carroll banked in that 3-pointer:

“I think all the shoulders sank right after that. I called an early timeout to try to get them going again. I saw the frustration was just too heavy. Wed made too many mistakes to that point to rectify ourselves . . . rectify the situation. I dont think you can rectify yourself. You can make a rectum of yourself, which we were tonight.

If the Lakers are going to watch tape, Id recommend the start of the game, when they fell behind 11-2 and made the rest of the first half an uphill climb, and the third quarter when they could have built a double-digit lead but didnt.

The Lakers led 68-61 with 3:33 left in the third with the Bobcats forced to call timeout. Charlotte came out of the timeout and immediately got a dunk off a pick-and-roll with Jeff McInnis feeding Emeka Okafor.

Kobe Bryant missed a 3-pointer and Gerald Wallace scored on a run out to make it a three-point game. Maurice Evans then couldnt get a drive to drop and Wallace spun around Bryant and scored as part of a three-point play to tie the game at 68-68.

“That overtime doesnt surprise me, Lamar Odom said, “when you think that we had a 68-61 lead in the third quarter and we were playing well. It seemed like momentum was going our way and then it was just the opposite, just a reversal.

“Until we start playing consistent, playing the same way all the time, well be up and down, up and down, up and down.

It would be pretty amazing to see the Lakers lose to Charlotte on Friday and then take a three-game season sweep over the Spurs on Sunday. The Lakers have a quick turnaround with only about 36 hours before the 12:30 p.m. start Sunday.

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The Bobcats won even though they made one of the dumbest mistakes Ive ever seen at the end of regulation. Its a three-point game with 9.6 seconds left and you know that the only Lakers player to hit a shot in the fourth quarter is Bryant.

Of course, thats the perfect time for Carroll to decide to switch and let Wallace take Bryant when the Lakers guard heads right. Out of the confusion, nobody winds up taking Bryant, who buries the tying 3-pointer and easiest big shot Ive ever seen him get.

“That last possession with Kobe, we were saying of all the people that you dont switch off is that you dont switch on Kobe, Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “You know what hes going to do – - shoot the ball. [ep

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If not for Bryants 3-pointer at the end of regulation, the Lakers might have gone the final 2:25 without scoring. Bryant certainly was guilty of trying to do too much. He had a shot blocked and then lost the ball. He also missed a jumper over Carroll with 33.9 seconds left.

The Bobcats took a 91-88 lead with 9.6 seconds left on a play that typified the Lakers night. Odom makes a great block on Okafor only to have Wallace get to the ball and stick it in the basket. Good thing, too, because the Lakers might have been able to win on Bryants 3 otherwise.

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It was interesting to see how Jackson opted to use Bryant in Odoms first game back. Bryant normally rests at the start of the second and fourth quarters but didnt in both instances Friday. He played with a group of reserves for the first 3 1-2 minutes of the second quarter before taking a quick breather.

In the second half, Bryant barely sat at all. He came out with 5.2 seconds left in the third quarter but returned to play the entire fourth quarter and all of overtime. As a result, Bryant played 50 out of a possible 53 minutes in the overtime game. A heavy, heavy workload.

The Lakers also opted to use Bryant at the scoring wing position and play Odom in the backcourt much of the game and especially in the fourth quarter. Bryant wound up scoring 23 of the Lakers 48 points in the second half plus overtime. He had five assists but nine turnovers for the night.

With Odom back, Vladimir Radmanovic didnt get off the bench. I wouldnt call this a surprise given how quickly Jackson benched Radmanovic in the second half of the Lakers previous two games but it was remarkable nonetheless.

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Odoms going to need a couple games to get his timing down. He threw one lazy pass just after crossing midcourt that the Bobcats stole and was called for an offensive foul shortly thereafter in the first quarter. Odom also missed a lot of the drives he normally makes.

“I felt a little slow out there, Odom said. “Itll take some time to get the explosion back and things like that, but for the most part it felt good. A little ice, a little rest, Ill go home tonight and get ready for practice tomorrow.

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By Ross Siler
Staff Writer

If one game could sum up everything that has gone wrong for the Lakers this season – - the losses to teams the rest of the NBA treats as road kill, the run of injuries that knows no end – - then Friday nights implosion against the Charlotte Bobcats was it.

The Lakers welcomed back forward Lamar Odom, who missed 21 games with a sprained knee ligament, and then watched Luke Walton go down with a moderately sprained right ankle that will keep him out at least a week.

Then they took a game that was once in control and squandered it 106-97 in overtime, even after being given a chance at redemption thanks to Kobe Bryants tying 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in regulation.

It was the Lakers second loss in a month to the Bobcats, who swept the season series and improved to a robust 15-27. The Lakers were outscored 15-6 in overtime, shot 42 percent for the game and committed 21 turnovers.

Maybe the developmental league D-Fenders deserve the next crack when the Lakers play one of the NBAs doormats. The Lakers now have lost twice to Charlotte, twice to New Orleans and once to Memphis and Portland this season.

“Im not as disappointed about the loss as I am about how we played, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “You can play in a loss and sometimes play well enough to feel like that was a heck of a game and we played well. But that was not well played at all.

“We forced the issue. Guys tried to insert their will too hard in the ballgame. We created too many turnovers as a consequence. We werent going to get the calls even though we were trying to force the calls to be made.

Odom said: “You look at our record, you say were right in the midst of everything, right in the pack of wolves. But I dont think we have an identity yet as far as how we want to play every single night, whether the balls going in or not.

The Lakers went the length of the court in the last 9.6 seconds of regulation to force overtime. Matt Carroll picked up Bryant, then thought Gerald Wallace was going to switch as Bryant dribbled to the right side.

Out of the confusion, the Bobcats left Bryant uncovered and he buried a 3-pointer without a hand in his face to tie the game at 91-91 with 1.6 seconds left. Bryant played all but 5.2 seconds in the second half and overtime.

He finished with 32 points on 10-of-24 shooting but also had nine turnovers in 50 minutes. Odom had 12 points but made just 3 of 10 shots and totaled six turnovers. Andrew Bynum finished with 11 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks.

The Lakers had momentum on their side but overtime proved to be a slow fade. Odom was called for an offensive foul, Smush Parker missed a point-blank shot and Odom had a jumper bounce in and out.

As it turned out, Charlotte had a little luck on its side. After Bynum blocked Raymond Felton in the lane, Carroll banked in a 3-pointer to put the Bobcats ahead 96-91 with 2:51 left in overtime.

I think all the shoulders sank right after that, Jackson said. “I just saw frustration. Wed made too many mistakes to that point to rectify the situation.

Bryant tried to create with the Lakers down 97-93 but had the ball stolen by Gerald Wallace. It was not how Bryant would want to remember the game in which he became the youngest player to score 18,000 points in his career.

Walton, meanwhile, was injured with 8:31 left in the third quarter as he went up to contest Adam Morrisons drive to the basket. Walton came down on Emeka Okafors foot in the lane and was in immediate pain.

He was helped to the locker room by trainer Gary Vitti and forward Ronny Turiaf. Walton, who has battled ankle injuries throughout his college and pro career, did not return to the bench.

Jackson said afterward that Walton would miss “a couple games. I dont know how many. But right off the bat, Id say its going to be a week.

Once again, the Lakers were haunted by inexperience. They led 68-61 with 3:33 left in the third quarter but gave up an 11-1 run to Charlotte. Carroll led the Bobcats with 24 points while Okafor finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds.

Jackson once again felt that his team again got caught playing to the level of the other teams record.

“Its very, very frustrating to see us lose to teams that, record-wise, you say, `Well, this record means that and this record means this, Jackson said. “It doesnt mean anything that particular night when you step on the court. Records are off. The game is being played.

After losing 133-124 to Charlotte in triple overtime on Dec. 29, the Lakers had a message in addition to a scouting report on their locker room board beforehand. It read simply “Kick they ass with three exclamation points.

With the Lakers falling behind by as many as 11 points in the first quarter, that message apparently never got through.

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