Lakers no longer allergic to ‘Cats
Presses weren’t stopped. Parades weren’t planned.
But sure enough, the Lakers beat the Charlotte Bobcats, a feat that could be confirmed by the box score and an appreciative crowd in a 92-84 victory Friday at Staples Center.
It was a slow-speed chase, nobody lighting up the scoreboard until late in the game, but the Lakers managed to beat the team that handed them a 20-point loss last month and had been on a stunning 8-2 run against them in recent seasons.
Losing year after year to the Bobcats, who have made the playoffs only once in their seven-year history, had been biting at the Lakers, their coach saying beforehand there was “no explanation” for it.
The Lakers won their sixth consecutive game since the All-Star break. The victory wasn’t without cost.
For a minute, it was like old times, Kwame Brown booed at Staples Center, though it had nothing to do with fumbling countless entry passes. The Charlotte center yanked hard on Derek Fisher’s elbow while trying to rip away a rebound in the third quarter, TV replays confirming that Fisher’s elbow was bent back grotesquely.
Fisher stayed down on the court for several seconds in agony and was later diagnosed with a sprained elbow. He was listed as day-to-day.
The Lakers (44-19) begin a rugged four-game trip Sunday in San Antonio. Fisher has played 476 consecutive regular-season games, the longest active streak among NBA players.
“I think he’ll be ready,” Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. “He’s strong as an ox. He’s got enough strength to probably hold it together.”
Fisher declined to talk to reporters after the game other than to say “Yep” when asked if he felt all right.
Said Pau Gasol: “I’ve seen the replay. It was tough. It’s a freaky play.”
The Lakers shot 38.2%. Charlotte wasn’t much better, shooting 39.8% and making one of 10 three-point attempts.
“I didn’t like any part of the game tonight,” Jackson said. “None of it. … If we play Sunday like we did tonight, we’re not going to be in the contest.”
There was actually one part he liked.
Andrew Bynum had nine points, 17 rebounds and six blocked shots, coming within a rebound and a blocked shot of career-highs in both categories.
“I’m impressed,” Jackson said. “I like the way ‘Drew’s playing.”
Kobe Bryant had 27 points, sitting out the fourth quarter, and Pau Gasol had 20.
Earlier in the day, Ron Artest said on his Twitter feed that it was “time to go hunting for bobcats.”
It wasn’t hard to do, seeing how Charlotte (26-35) got drilled in Denver on Wednesday, 120-80, and started rebuilding for the future two weeks ago by trading former All-Star forward Gerald Wallace.
D.J. Augustin had 22 points for the Bobcats, who lost forward Stephen Jackson in the third quarter because of a strained left hamstring.
The first half was a snoozer, the Lakers leading, 45-35, and neither team playing well. The only mild intrigue came when it was realized that Matt Barnes wasn’t on the bench. The Lakers’ reserve forward was supposed to return from a 25-game absence but aggravated his right knee while stretching before the game. Like Fisher, he is listed as day-to-day.
The Lakers had just enough offense from Bryant and Gasol, and just enough defense from Bynum. Their momentum will be tested in San Antonio, Atlanta, Miami and Dallas.
“This trip is really like a make-or-break point of the season for us,” Jackson said. “If we play really well on this road trip, we have a chance to do things.”
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