Bobcats lead Lakers at halftime, 49-48
The Lakers knew the challenges the Charlotte Bobcats have presented them in the past. The Lakers knew this was their last game at Staples Center in two weeks and that they wanted to leave on a positive note before hitting the road.
So much for knowing all that.
What the Lakers know is that the Bobcats are a big thorn for them, Charlotte’s 117-110 double-overtime victory Tuesday night showing that yet again.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson sat down after the game and had no statement to make.
He asked for questions.
So Jackson was asked why the Bobcats have defeated the Lakers five out of six, including the last three games the in Los Angeles.
“I don’t know,” Jackson began. “It’s the way the roll of the dice goes some nights. This was one of those games. They outplayed us tonight.”
The Lakers leave Thursday for a 10-day, six-game trip with the bitter taste of defeat that left them with a 35-9 record, the third best in the NBA, percentage points behind Cleveland and Boston, two teams L.A. will face on this trip
“We were fortunate to get back in the game. They had to miss foul shots for us to get back into the ballgame,” Jackson said. “We really almost stole a ballgame that we should have lost. So I think sometimes justice prevails.”
Andrew Bynum, the Western Conference player of the week, tried to carry the Lakers in the second overtime after Kobe Bryant fouled out in the first extra period.
Bynum produced his fourth consecutive double-double with 24 points and 14 rebounds, for all the good it did. He also had six blocked shots.
“That team always plays us tough,” said Bynum, who had seven points and three blocked shots in the final overtime. “It must be a matchup thing or something like that.”
Bryant, who scored eight of his 38 in the overtime, fouled out for the first time this season with 39.8 seconds left and the Lakers leading, 103-100.
“I don’t know. Doesn’t matter,” Bryant said about his sixth foul.
Bryant stood on the sideline watching, waiting for his team to get a defensive stop.
But when Boris Diaw (23 points, nine rebounds, nine assists) made a three-pointer to tie the score at 103-103, Bryant dropped his head and pursed his lips.
The Bobcats then outscored the Lakers, 14-7, in the second overtime to pull out the victory.
“When you’re struggling to win a game, any game, any win is big,” Charlotte Coach Larry Brown said. “But when you play the best team on their court and they’re playing at such a high level, obviously the guys in that locker room are pretty proud, as is our coaching staff.”
It was the Lakers’ first overtime game of the season, sent there when Derek Fisher made a three-pointer with 14 seconds left in the fourth.
The game had appeared to turn in Charlotte’s favor for good with 2:08 left in regulation, when Bynum, trying to protect the basket, was called for a flagrant foul against Gerald Wallace.
Wallace drove by Bryant when he encountered Bynum, who knocked Wallace down with a forearm shove under his left rib.
Wallace eventually was taken to the locker room for medical attention.
His replacement at the free-throw line, Raja Bell, missed both free throws, leaving the Bobcats ahead, 90-85.
Wallace left the game on a stretcher and was taken to the hospital to be examined for a possible collapsed left lung and fractured rib. He will stay overnight in Los Angeles.
It was a difficult night for the Lakers on many fronts.
They lost Trevor Ariza in the first half when he suffered a concussion. He left the game with 4:52 left in the second quarter and didn’t return after being injured when he was blindsided by a Juwan Howard screen. The Lakers missed Ariza’s defense and ability to slash to the basket.
Ariza is listed as day-to-day.
“He had some nausea and dizziness. That’s what was the irritating thing,” Jackson said. “He had his bell rung.”
And guard Sasha Vujacic struggled because of a sore left ankle injury suffered during practice Monday.
The Bobcats were 18-26 before Tuesday night’s game, but they are 11-10 since they acquired Diaw, Bell and Sean Singleton from the Phoenix Suns for Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley on Dec. 10.
They are the 11th-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games out of the playoff spot.
“I think they now are what you’d have to say is a bona fide contender for a playoff [spot] this year,” Jackson said before the game. “They’re starting to jell as a basketball club after a horrific start and now they’ve made a trade that’s made sense to their personnel.”
Time to leave
The Lakers, 12-5 on the road, begin a six-game trip
at Minnesota (16-27)
Friday, 5 p.m., Channel 9
at Memphis (11-33)
Saturday, 5 p.m., Channel 9
at New York (19-25)
Monday, 4:30 p.m., Channel 9
at Toronto (18-28)
Feb. 4, 4 p.m., Channel 9
at Boston (37-9)
Feb. 5, 5 p.m., TNT
at Cleveland (35-8)
Feb. 8, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
* --all times PST