Lakers have struggled against Charlotte Bobcats
On paper, it appeared the Lakers have survived the hard portion of their seven-game trip.
They have a 4-1 record, with three victories over teams that appear headed to the playoffs. One of the victories came against the Boston Celtics, which gave the Lakes a split in the season series and a rare victory against one of the NBA's elite teams.
The Lakers are well aware that Monday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats (23-31) won't be easy, considering the Lakers have lost to them seven out of the last nine games played against them. The reasons? There are plenty.
All of the Lakers' meetings with the 5-year-old Bobcats took place from late December to early March, a stretch of the season in which it's easy for the Lakers to appear bored and lackadaisical. Many of these losses left the Lakers fuming.
The Lakers' 98-83 on March 5, 2010 at Charlotte prompted Kobe Bryant to call a players-only meeting, an effort that eventually was part of the team's first three-game losing streak since acquiring Pau Gasolin February 2008. The Lakers' 108-95 loss on March 26, 2008 left Coach Phil Jackson so disgusted that he didn't take questions from reporters after the game, guard Derek Fisherdebated whether it was the season's worst loss and Bryant drew double technicals after the team trailed by double digits for most of the game, were outrebounded, 50-42, and allowed Charlotte to go 11 of 24 from three-point range.
There were plenty of reasons why the Lakers acted so upset, particularly because it's common for them to coast during the dog days of the NBA season. The Lakers' 94-84 loss April, 1, 2009 at Charlotte sparked Jackson to suggest referees favored the hometown because the Lakers shot ony six free throws to the Bobcats' 22. They couldn't keep pace with the league's second-lowest scoring offense and shot only 39.2% from the field. The Lakers' 117-110 double overtime loss Jan. 28, 2009 to Charlotte featured the Lakers' looking ahead to their 10-day trip. And the Lakers' 112-102 loss Feb. 3, 2006, marked the first-time the then-second-year franchise ever led from start to finish without relinquishing the lead.
The Lakers had health issues
This very well could be an issue again today since Bryant remains a game-time decision after missing the morning shootaround because of aches and chills. The Lakers have had health and injury problems against this team. For one, the Lakers believe their 94-84 loss April 1, 2009 pointed to fatigue since the game came on the 12th day of a 13-day trip in which they had won the first four games. It could be a factor again since the Lakers will be playing their sixth-game of a seven-game, 12-day trip. There have also been injury considerations. In the Lakers' Jan. 28, 2009 loss, Trevor Ariza suffered a concussion in the first half and Sasha Vujacic remained sidelined because of a sore left ankle, two injuries that need to be measured with Charlotte forward Gerald Wallace needing medical attention after Andrew Bynum earned a flagrant foul for knocking Wallace down with a forearm shove.
Lakers forward Lamar Odom sat out of the Lakers' 112-102 loss on Feb. 4, 2006 because of torn rib cartilage. He also didn't feel fully sound when he returned in the Lakers' 106-97 loss to the Bobcats on Jan. 26, 2007 from a month-long absence because of a sprained right knee. And the Lakers' 98-83 loss on March 5, 2010 featured a wide array of injuries, including Bryant (fractured right index finger) Shannon Brown (sprained right thumb), Jordan Farmar(sprained ligament in left hand), Odom and Ron Artest (finger) and absences to Vujacic (right shoulder) and Luke Walton (pinched nerve in lower back).
Bobcats made key plays late in the game
The Lakers shouldn't use health as an excuse, however. There were plenty of games the Bobcats simply executed better, particularly in late-game situations.
In what marked the longest game in the franchises's existence, Charlotte's 113-124 triple-overtime victory over the Lakers on Dec. 29, 2006 featured Derek Anderson hitting three consecutive free throws in the final minute, drawing an offensive foul on Bryant that caused him to foul out and Emeka Okafur recording his first 20-20 game of his career. The Lakers' 117-100 double-overtime loss on Jan. 28, 2009 also featured Bryant fouling out, Boris Diaw making a late-game three-pointer to tie the game at 103-103 and the Bobcats outscoring the Lakers, 14-7, in the second overtime.
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Photo: Bobcats guard Stephen Jackson tries to spin away from the steal attempt of Lakers guard Kobe Bryant during the Lakers' 98-83 loss last season to the Charlotte Bobcats. Credit: Jeff Siner/McClatchy-Tribune.
Photo: Charlotte point guard Raymond Felton gets past Lakers point guard Derek Fisher for a shot down the middle of the lane during the Lakers' 98-83 loss last season to the Charlotte Bobcats.. Credit: Jeff Siner/McClatchy-Tribune.