Lakers dominate struggling Bobcats, 106-73
Kobe Bryant took a rare fourth-quarter breather, sitting out the entire final 12 minutes as the Lakers let a contingent of mostly reserves help the team reach triple digits for a second consecutive game and only the third time this season.
Bryant finished with 24 points, making nine of 21 shots in only 28 minutes, after it looked earlier as if he was headed to much greater things; he had 18 points after the first quarter. But it was a welcome departure from Sunday, when Bryant had to play all 24 second-half minutes in a narrow victory over Minnesota.
Center Andrew Bynum added 20 points and 11 rebounds and power forward Pau Gasol had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who got a big boost from their underperforming bench.
Back-to-back three-pointers by reserves Troy Murphy and Andrew Goudelock early in the fourth quarter gave the Lakers an 83-62 lead, essentially putting the game out of reach. Murphy would follow with another three-pointer and finish with 12 points as part of a strong output from a Lakers bench that combined for 48 points.
The Lakers' lead was so comfortable in the final minutes that they were able to finish the game with a lineup of reserves Darius Morris, Devin Ebanks, Josh McRoberts, Jason Kapono and Luke Walton.
Lakers small forward Metta World Peace, making a second consecutive start, finished with two points in 23 minutes in a foul-plagued performance. Displaced small forward Matt Barnes had 12 points in 27 minutes off the bench, perhaps giving Lakers Coach Mike Brown reason to think about putting him back in the starting lineup.
Next up for the Lakers is a season-long six-game road trip that starts Friday in Denver. The Lakers are only 2-7 away from Staples Center and need to start picking up road victories more consistently if they intend to secure a decent seeding in the playoffs.
The third quarter was nearly a worst-case scenario for the Lakers, who scored only 13 points and saw their 24-point halftime lead winnowed considerably.
Kobe Bryant missed all five of his shots and was scoreless in the quarter and Metta World Peace continued to founder, picking up his fourth foul with 4 minutes 21 seconds left and going to the bench. His replacement, Matt Barnes, provided a brief spark with a layup and a three-pointer.
Bryant still has 24 points, but he's hardly on pace for the kind of output he was following his 18-point first quarter. Andrew Bynum has already logged a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Gerald Henderson and Derrick Brown have 12 points apiece for the Bobcats, who will need some magic to pull out their fourth victory of the season.
Lakers 60, Bobcats 36 (halftime)
It was a decidedly more low-key quarter for Kobe Bryant, who took only four shots, making two, to nudge his point total to 24 at halftime Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Bryant didn't take his first shot in the quarter until there was 5 minutes 28 seconds left, letting his teammates do most of the work as they stretched their lead to as many as 24 points against the dreadful Bobcats.
Bryant has made nine of 16 shots in 17 first-half minutes and could spend much of the second half on the bench after playing all 24 minutes in a road victory over Minnesota on Sunday. Perhaps Bryant's most awe-inducing play in the first half came on an alley-oop lob to Andrew Bynum for a dunk.
Bynum has 14 points and eight rebounds for the Lakers, who are shooting 58.5% to the Bobcats' 31.3%. But pick any category and it seems the Lakers are winning against the team with the worst record in the NBA.
Derrick Brown has 10 points off the bench for Charlotte, which can savor having scored the game's first basket.
Metta World Peace continues to be a no-show in his second consecutive start at small forward for the Lakers, making his only shot for two points to go with two assists and one rebound in 15 minutes.
Lakers 30, Bobcats 18 (end of first quarter)
Kobe Bryant came out as if he intended to show the NBA's worst team that he was the league's best player, scoring 18 points in the first quarter on seven-for-12 shooting.
The Lakers star made an array of fadeaway jumpers, three-pointers and even mixed in a one-handed floater, putting him on pace for 72 points if he can sustain this pace. Of course, he could be resting by the end of the third quarter if the Lakers can build on their lead against a team with only three victories.
Bryant made two of six three-pointers and two of three free throws in the quarter, re-entering with 10 seconds left just so he could take one final three-pointer that bounced off the side of the rim.
Andrew Bynum (four points), Andrew Goudelock (four), Pau Gasol (two) and Derek Fisher (two) were the only other Lakers to score in the quarter.
Lakers forward Metta World Peace, making his second consecutive start, was scoreless, though he did pick up two fouls, including one when he held Kemba Walker on a breakaway but could not prevent Walker from making a layup.
Kemba Walker had five points for the Bobcats, who were shooting only 26.9% to the Lakers' 47.8%.
-- Ben Bolch
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is fouled by Charlotte's D.J. White, left, while his teammate Bismack Biyombo defends during the first half of Tuesday's game. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times