Inside the locker rooms

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Here are some of the best postgame comments.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on losing to Charlotte, 94-83: “We didn’t play the game with the kind of vim and vigor that we normally do. They made five turnovers to start the third quarter and we only had one basket out of those. I think we misunderstood how to play this team. The type of energy we had is very disappointing when you are trying to get something working out there.”

Jackson on the Lakers’ 39.2 percent shooting: “Kobe (Bryant) couldn’t hit shots. Lamar (Odom) looked good on his shots (but) our bench didn’t do so well, so maybe it was (tired) legs. I’m not willing to say that just yet.”

Bryant on the state of the team after consecutive losses: “We need to get it together and get back on track. We aren’t doing a very good job of sharing the ball. We need to build momentum heading into the playoffs. I don’t think fatigue is the reason we’ve lost two in a row.”

Charlotte guard Raymond Felton on guarding Bryant: “Me and Raja (Bell) just tried to stay up on him and stay physical with him and bother him. He still hit some shots, but every shot he took was a tough shot. He’s going to hit shots. Kobe is a great player. He’s a workaholic. I’ve got to give most of the credit to Raja. I did my part when I played him a few minutes, but I’ve got to give it all to Raja.”

Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace on winning six of seven against the Lakers: “We match up really well with them. I think we force Kobe to take a lot of tough shots and get him out of what we wants to do offensively. At the same time, we’re able to attack them and take advantage of their weaknesses on their defensive end.”

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Final: Bobcats 94, Lakers 84

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Lakers turned in another clunker, losing to the Charlotte Bobcats by 94-84 tonight. Now the best they can do on their seven-game trip is finish with a 5-2 record. They complete their longest trip of the season Wednesday at Milwaukee. Lakers coach Phil Jackson set a goal of coming home with 60 victories. Now the best they can do is return with 59. The Lakers (58-16) shot almost as poorly as in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta. They shot 39.2 percent tonight and 35 percent Sunday. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 25 points. Lamar Odom had 20 points and nine rebounds. Pau Gasol had 16 points and 11 rebounds. Gerald Wallace led the Bobcats with 21 points. The Lakers averaged 108 points, but then scored 76 against Atlanta and 84 against Charlotte.

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Halftime: Lakers 44, Bobcats 43

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Lakers coach Phil Jackson, looking for an early spark, inserted Shannon Brown into the lineup ahead of Jordan Farmar late in the first quarter tonight. The Lakers started by shooting a meager 6-for-19. Matters improved slightly by the end of the half. Lamar Odom led the Lakers with 14 points and eight rebounds. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol had eight apiece. Bryant made only 4 of 14. Gerald Wallace had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Bobcats. The Lakers shot 39.2 percent; the Bobcats shot 47.4.

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Pregame with Phil

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Injured center Andrew Bynum’s appearance Saturday at the Playboy Mansion was no big deal, according to Lakers coach Phil Jackson. The 7-foot Bynum was photographed with playmate Nicole Narain perched on his shoulders.

“I think there’s a lot being made out of that that’s unnecessary,” Jackson said today before the Lakers played the Charlotte Bobcats. “This is a young guy. He’s a 21-year-old guy. He’s been out of basketball for six weeks. He’s got to let out some energy and have some fun. I don’t know if putting a girl on your shoulders is a good idea. The fact that people are beating him up over that, I think that is crazy. Andrew is doing fine. He’s going to be fine.”

Bynum has been sidelined since tearing a right knee ligament Jan. 31.

Jackson met with Michael Jordan for a while before the game. Jordan, now a Bobcats executive, and Jackson won six NBA titles together with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. They spoke about the Illinois state title won a few weeks ago by Jordan’s son’s team.

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Kevin Garnett to “shut it down”

Seeing as how we’re so close to playoff time, I thought I should pass on the big news of the day. Boston is going to “shut down” KG over the last two weeks of the season so he can rest his ailing knee. He might play in a couple of games, but it will be very limited.

I’m still not convinced the Cs are done, mostly because I think they can beat Orlando in a seven-game series and Cleveland will have to get by (my prediction) Charlotte in the first round and either Atlanta or Miami in the second, both of which could be lengthy series’.

But if Garnett is still this banged up, I don’t see how Boston is the same team.

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News, notes and quotes

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Lakers held a lengthy practice today. Actually, it was of fairly normal length if they had been at home in El Segundo. But things tend to move faster on the road. The Lakers tend to get it over with quickly when they are out of town. They had a video session for 90 minutes today and then practice for another 90 or so.

Kobe Bryant practiced with his teammates, but was still feeling crummy from an upset stomach that began to bother him before Sunday’s game in Atlanta. He expects to play Tuesday against the Charlotte Bobcats. He told reporters to stay away because he didn’t want them getting the same bug.

Adam Morrison offered a few tips to his new teammates about his old teammates. The Lakers acquired Morrison and Shannon Brown from the Bobcats for Vladimir Radmanovic on Feb. 7. Morrison and Brown have played limited minutes for the Lakers. Radmanovic has made one start in 23 games with Charlotte.

Charlotte leads the all-time series against the Lakers, 5-4. Why?

“When I was with the Bobcats, I always thought that we matched up well with them,” Morrison said. “I think we were always a little more athletic. It was one of those deals where we were never a playoff team, so this was like our playoff game. Going to L.A. or them coming here, you knew there was going to be a big crowd. I think we just played up to it. This year, they’re almost in the playoffs. They’re one game out. They’re a better team. They’re playing well. They’re not a bad team at all. Basically, (the Bobcats) just outplayed them most of the time.”

As of this morning, the Bobcats (33-40) were in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, two games behind the eighth-place Chicago Bulls. The top eight teams make the playoffs.

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Inside the locker room

ATLANTA — The bottom line on the Lakers’ 86-76 loss today to the Atlanta Hawks was that they didn’t get the ball to Pau Gasol often enough. Gasol led the Lakers with 21 points and 11 rebounds. He made 7 of 10 shots, the only Lakers starter to shoot better than 50 percent. The Lakers shot a meager 35 percent as a team.

Gasol on the outcome: “It definitely wasn’t a good game for us. As a team, we didn’t play well. I don’t know exactly why we were so out of whack and missing so much, but that was the way it turned out.”

More from Gasol: “Our outside shots weren’t going down, so we should have gone inside a little more. This is just one of those games when we didn’t realize how to attack the Hawks. They really confused us (defensively).”

Coach Phil Jackson on Gasol and Kobe Bryant (17 points on 7-for-19 shooting): “Pau had a good game, but I think he may have been a little too unselfish at times. Kobe did some good things out there, but he did miss some shots.”

Bryant on the Hawks: “(They) have played us well in this building (Philips Arena). Tonight was one of their better shooting nights against us. My hat is off to them for maintaining control of the game and withstanding our runs.”

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Halftime: Hawks 40, Lakers 39

ATLANTA — The Lakers and Hawks combined to shoot enough bricks to build a house in the first half. Lakers shot 33.3 percent (14-for-42) and the Hawks shot 38.3 percent (18-for-47). The Lakers trailed the Hawks by 38-27 with 3:42 left in the half, but roared back into the game with a 12-2 run in the final minutes before the break. Kobe Bryant, playing with a sprained right ankle and an upset stomach, electrified the crowd at the Philips Arena with a jump shot over Atlanta’s Mario West, who had been hounding him all around the court. Bryant couldn’t shake West, so he finally just jumped over him and shot.

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Kobe ailing, but expected to play

ATLANTA — Neither a sprained right ankle nor an upset stomach was expected to keep Kobe Bryant from playing today against the Atlanta Hawks. Bryant injured his ankle late in Friday’s victory over the New Jersey Nets. He underwent treatment on his ankle Saturday, but fell ill this morning and was unable to attend a team meeting, according to Lakers coach Phil Jackson.

“As far as I know he is (playing), but I haven’t talked to him,” Jackson said this morning. “He wasn’t at the team video brunch session. He wasn’t feeling well. So I haven’t talked to him. But our crack trainers have assured me he can play. I’m not going to speculate on what it was, but it could have been a reaction to whatever kind of medicine he was taking for the swelling and soreness.”

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What’s up with Phil?

ATLANTA — Lakers coach Phil Jackson has been tough to pin down recently when it comes to coaching next season. He said in Chicago last week he would be back for 2009-10 and would not retire on top if the Lakers win the NBA championship. A title in June would be his league-record 10th, breaking a tie with the late Red Auerbach.

He was even more emphatic in Oklahoma City a few days later. “I’d like to quit at the end of this year,” he said. “But you know I won’t do it. This time of the season, when you’re traveling, it’s weary, you’re like, ‘Can I do this another year?’ But by the end of July, I’ll be ready to go back and coach basketball.”

But he told a Southern California newspaper Friday he hasn’t committed to coaching next season yet and would decide in the offseason. Jackson, 63, has had health concerns in recent years and that is always a concern. He did not attend the Lakers’ first exhibition back in October because of swelling and pain in his lower legs. He has not missed a game since then, however.

Personally, I believe him when he says he won’t decide until the summer. The season is a grind and it’s difficult to maintain an objective view of things while in the midst of them. Winning the record-setting title that eluded him last June might play a role in his decision, too. So might Kobe Bryant’s decision to stay or go. Bryant can opt out of his contract after the season ends. Health is no doubt the biggest issue, however.

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