It’s the dreaded Bobcats again
Yep, the Lakers are out to get even Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats at Staples Center.
The Lakers were beaten down by the Bobcats last month in Charlotte, suffering a 20-point whipping that was so maddening that Coach Phil Jackson spoke to the media for a mere five seconds and Kobe Bryant left without talking to reporters.
Asked what’s on their mind for Friday’s game, Lakers center Andrew Bynum was emphatic.
“Payback,” Bynum said Tuesday night after the victory over Minnesota. “Yeah, we’ve got to get that one back. When we were out there, they drug us, so we’ve got to do something better.”
Charlotte, which lost by 40 points in Denver on Wednesday night, has defeated the Lakers eight of the last 10 games, including three of the last four games at Staples Center.
The Lakers’ loss to Charlotte last month was by the largest margin since the Bobcats joined the NBA for the 2004-05 season.
But the Lakers, who did not practice Wednesday, are playing much better since that loss, which was a part of a three-game losing streak.
The Lakers have won five consecutive games since the All-Star break. Jackson, however, was not willing to say how significant their current win streak is.
“I’ll tell you after Friday,” Jackson said.
“Because it would be six in a row, if we can win it,” Jackson said. “We have a little score to settle with Charlotte.”
When asked if the Lakers are a better defensive team during their winning streak than before the All-Star break, Pau Gasol paused before saying, “I don’t know.”
“What do the numbers say?” Gasol said.
They say the Lakers have given up only 88.4 points a game during the winning streak.
“Then maybe we are,” Gasol said. “It’s just five games. The next five games are going to be a really good test, especially the road games. So let’s see how we do.”
After facing the Bobcats, the Lakers play at San Antonio on Sunday against a Spurs team that, at 50-11, has the best record in the NBA. The Lakers then travel to Atlanta, Miami and Dallas, another team ahead of the Lakers in the Western Conference.
“Let’s see where we are against four really good teams. That’ll be interesting. That’ll be challenging. And I think we’re excited about it,” Gasol said.
“That’s going to be a big trip,” agreed Matt Barnes, who is expected to practice Thursday in hopes he can play Friday after sitting out 25 games following right knee surgery.
“Our mind-set is definitely in the right area right now. You hear from a lot of teams that you can’t turn it on and off, but this team turned it back on. We’ve got a great focus right now,” Barnes said.
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The impact of Matt Barnes on the Lakers’ lineup: