Live from the Game - Lakers vs. Bobcats
Maybe it's just me, but I considered Charlotte's jettisoning of Walter Hermann a clear cut sign that they were in rebuilding mode.
AK (with the first half)
10:04 - The first four Laker points belong to Ronny Turiaf, the second coming off a mi-range. Good way to start out, Ronny. Now let's be on the look out to avoid the unnecessary extra pass.
9:15 - Just as BK and I are commenting that Gerald Wallace went from being a guy who could do everything but shoot to a guy who's turned into a fairly good shooter, he buries a three.
Side note: Whenever I see Wallace play, I always end up thinking of a SPL league game I went to about 7 years ago where Wallace and LO were matched up on each other. I was like, "That could be a fun match up for a long time."
6:38 - Nice dish inside from Kobe to a cutting LO to bring the Lakers back within two. On the very next possession, a block by Ronny puts the rock back in Laker mitts, with LO eventually feeding FIsh for the make from distance.
By the way, I apologize to anybody if it feels like I'm typing about 6 words a minute. My laptop is in the shop (fingers crossed, I won't need to purchase a new one) and I'm using a rental at the moment. And as everyone who types a lot knows, whenever you use a new keypad for the first time, it feels very bizarre and you struggle to find the right keys. I just told someone that it feels like I'm doing this while holding a spatula in each hand.
4:45 - Something you don't see very often: Kobe Bryant blowing a basically uncontested layup. His next one should come sometime around 2011.
3:35 - Well, if you're gonna airball, you might as well miss the bucket by around three feet, as Vlad just did.
2:15 - Kobe gets his pocket picked in traffic by J.Rich, who ends up strolling up to the Laker goal for an easy dunk. On the next possession, Vlad gets stripped by Okafur. That's the fifth turnover of the quarter. During the ensuing timeout prompted by Charlotte, I imagine Phil said something along the lines of "Quit screwing around wth the rock, kids."
DJ Mbenga sighting!!!
30.0 - Like I always say, the Lakers need to run their offense through Mbenga. After accepting the rock just east of the elbow, The Congo's Favorite Son dribble, then dribbles, then dribbles a little more, creating the appearance that he might not quite know what to be doing at the moment. But then he spies a cutting Luke Walton and relays the bounce pass for the easy layup.
End of the first: Jordan Farmar's swipe/buzzer beatin' three cuts a little more into the Laker deficit. 27, 24 Charlotte. To say the least, the majoroty of that quarter featured some shoddy Laker D. The insertion of the second unit guys seemed to spark some energy and a 7-0 run, so let's see if they can carry that mo' fo'ward. BK with the second.
11:07- Bobcats up 29-25 as Matt Carroll sinks a couple FTs. Overall, the Lakers are doing fine offensively, but have to tighten up the D. A few too many uncontested shots, especially from the perimeter. That prompted an early PJ TO in the first.
Now it's second unit vs. second unit, and it's a battle LA needs to win.
9:27- Timeout on the floor. Mbenga hits the baby jumper to bring the Lakers back to within four, 31-27. There's still no reason to believe that if the Lakers just stay with the game plan, work the offense, and limit easy chances for the Bobcats to pile up points, that as things progress the Lakers won't take control of the game.
Out of the timeout, it's Mbenga, Kobe, LO, Sasha, and Farmar.
6:40- Lakers still down six after a little two man game between Kobe and LO doesn't get a bucket. But I liked the sequence. Setting up the shot on the outside with Kobe, posting LO, reposting, giving themselves some options. Right now, they're just missing a lot of shots.
5:30- Felton uses a screen to block off Farmar and hit the jumper. As the Lakers bring the ball back down the court, PJ calls a TO. I'm not sure he likes what he sees in the Lakers getting in and out of the O, and again, too many open looks for Charlotte.
5:24- Starters back in coming out of the timeout. Hopefully they can cut into the 10 point deficit bfore the end of the half.
Not yet, though, as the first possession stalls out after a strong offensive rebound from Ronny, then the Kobe fouls Felton after a turnover. Jackson puts Walton back on the floor, and pulls Vladdy. My guess, based on what he talked about after the Golden State game on Monday is that he didn't like the ball movement with Vlad.
3:09- Nifty feed from Fish to Ronny in tight quarters under the hoop. Fish drove along the right baseline, then threaded the needle to get the pass over to Turiaf. I'm not sure Ronny expected it- he seemed a little surprised when the ball hit him in the stomach- but he got the ball up and drew the foul.
Funny moment- on the second FT, clearly Ronny didn't think it was going in, because he let out a very audible expletive. When it went down, he just shrugged and smiled.
2:49- Bobcats 43, Lakers 36.
1:43- Walton gets inside and lays in the and-one. After the FT, it's Bobcats by six, with a chance to cut it to four after LO gets to the line on Okefor on the next trip down.
He misses both, which turns out to be a blessing for the Lakers, as the loose ball is contested by Turiaf, corralled by Walton, and cashed in by Kobe.
:28.4- Kobe picks up a bad third foul closing on Richardson in the right corner. Long after Richardson launched the three, Kobe made contact and gave him the FT after the make. Combine that with a triple from Carroll on the trip previous, and it's a quick six for Charlotte. The replay made it look pretty inconsequential (the foul, not the points) but either way it was enough for a whistle.
Walton gets a little too fancy, trying to hit Turiaf on a quick behind the back pass as Ronny was cutting to the basket. Walton saw where he was as the play began, but when he wen to to make the pass, Turaf wasn't there anymore. Oops.
Felton hits a three heading into the half, and at the break, its' 57-44 Charlotte.
Lakers down 13, after getting as close as six. Too many open threes for Charlotte, who have hit six of twelve from downtown. Too many turnovers for the Lakers, who have given the ball away eight times, generally because of their own mistakes, rather than anything the Bobcats are doing. Offensively, they showed some flow early, but since have gone totally cold, and look out of sorts. Some of that is a function of missing shots (in Q2, the Lakers were only 7-20, including 2-8 from beyond the arc), but there's also some zip missing from the team. Not much cutting or action.
Things can improve in the second half, as LA showed against the Warriors... and they'll need to. More to come in a few.
10:23 - Not a great initial challenge by Vlad on J. RIch, which makes for a fairly easy drive to the bucket. After the shaky first half Radmanovic put on display, he better put out a little more verve or he could find himself spending a lot of this game talking shop with Brian Shaw.
8:50 - Kobe works Wallace deeper and deeper into the paint until he's finally got such good position a bucket would basically be impossible to miss by just about any player, much less The Mamba. It prompts a timeout from CHarlotte, but they're still the ones very much in charge of this game, up 65-50.
7:00 - Very heady play by LO falling out of bounds with the rock. With just about an inch of space to operate, he manages to twist himself towards Richardson and clock him with the rock. Ball off Charlotte. Lakers retain possession.
5:10 - Kobe redeems himself after a missed 20-footer on the next possession by picking up a loose ball in traffic and pushing the ball up through a scrum of Charlotte arms. He literally willed that sucker in there for the and-one opportunity, which went converted.
4:30 - Now there's something you don't see every day. Raymond Felton gets called for the eight second violation. Not because he was feeling too much pressure and got in trouble, but because he literally was just strolling and lost track of time. If you lollygag enough, you can make that trip take forever.
3:02 - Turiaf secures his own miss and shuttles the ball out behind the arc to FIsh, who comes up dry on the triple attempt. The Lakers have gone seriously cold in this quarter, having droppped to 38% from the 42 the began the frame at. A triple from Sasha on the next posession helps the clip a bit.
36.3 - Ronny's failure to put down a chippie from five feet out turns into a J.Rich triple off Wallace's dime. Another trip where the Lakers don't keep solid enough tabs on the downtown marker. Charlotte's shooting an even 50% from distance, which is a large reason the Lakers are finding themselves constantly scrapping to get back in this thing.
The quarter wraps itself up with an 82-68 hole for the Lakers to climb out of. As I just mentioned, they're doing a terrible job making Charlotte's attempts from three point land anything but seriously easy. 9-18 at the moment. They're also getting outboarded, outdimed and basically out-everythinged during this contest. I'd also go so far as to possibly say outworked as well. IF anything, they're getting out-focused. We'll see what happens in the fourth. BK will narrate.
10:06- An Mbenga baby jumper off the glass brings the Lakers back to within eight, as the Lakers have gone on a 6-0 run to start the quarter. They have a chance to run it to eight after Okafor fouls Mbenga, pushing him underneath going for the rebound.
9:17- Odom draws contact on the break, taking a Walton drop strong to the hole. He makes the first, and in between shots Kobe comes back into the game for Mbenga. LO makes the second.
Worth noting that DJ played well tonight. A little D, a little O. This is a great team for him to play against, because they don't get up and down the floor a ton, and Mbenga can play a traditional role in the post.
7:02- Bobcats 88, Lakers 81. Looks like Sasha and JF are entering into a three point shooting contest. Sasha takes two in the same trip down. First a very quick launch from the corner that was flat and didn't find a home. After the Lakers got it back, he launched again, this time with Dudley in his face. Fortunately for him, it went in (I was actually saying out loud, "That'd better go in." as he released it.) but he gave two of the points away on the other end, flopping on Richardson (no call) who pulled up in front of LO for the J.
Next trip down, Farmar launches a brick from downtown. Bobcats get the ball deep on the ensuing possession, and lay it in. Timeout, PJ.
Fish, Ronny, LO, Kobe, Sasha in after the TO.
5:41- Lakers give up the offensive board on the free throw, which the Bobcats turn into a Carroll three pointer. I can think of a couple things wrong with that sequence.
5:10- Sasha makes a three in response, and the Lakers are down 16.
Wait, 18 now that Richardson gets inside ahead of Kobe, gets the pass from the perimeter, and leans into Turiaf for a questionable and-one, which he makes.
Wow. On the next trip, Sasha ducked when the pass came to him from Fisher. Actually ducked. At first, I thought maybe he thought the ball was tipped, but on the replay, it was clear he ducked, like someone threw a bottle at him.
3:30- Double oops. Kobe picks up a T, then gets another, meaning he's tossed from the game and, I believe, has racked up enough Ts to get a suspension from the league. The replays showed Kobe might have had a point- I'm not sure he touched Carroll on the three, for example- but seriously, he needs to do a better job of keeping his composure.
2:42- Lakers down 14, and this one has gotten away from them. There's still time to get back into it, but it'll take a big run, starting now, and stops they don't seem capable of getting.
1:52- Wow. That's a terrible call on Walton, who was raked by Felton under the bucket, and as he lost his balance (because of the foul) hit Felton with his off arm. He wasn't looking at him, just going for the ball. Not that it really matters at this point in the game, but that was a horrible call.
Turns out that was T number 15 on Kobe, so he'll play on Friday.
END OF THE GAME:
Well, not much to write about over that last two minutes. Final score is Bobcats 108-95. Kobe gets tossed, Lakers get three happy, careless, and generally look awful. A missed chance to keep up with the Hornets in the West.
Thanks for following along. Breakdown to follow, with plenty of demerits contained within.