By Craig Kwasniewski
That Larry Brown is one hell of a coach! Who else can find a way to: get Trevor Ariza concussed, force Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol to be a complete no-show (I hope I read about flu-like symptoms for Gasol because he was terrible!), force the Lakers to play Luke Walton key minutes down the stretch, force the Lakers to freeze out Bynun, their best player in the second OT and foul out Kobe Bryant. Only the brilliant Larry Brown could find a way... (standing clap)... This bud's for you!
Yep, the above happened and the Lakers STILL almost pulled out the W against a very stubborn Bobcats but instead they dropped a very entertaining game in double OT 117-110. A few thoughts from my seat in 316:
Charlotte owns the Lakers: The numbers don't lie, the Bobcats have won 5 their last 6 against the Lakers. Despite heavy warnings in Tuesday's LA Times, the Lakers still took the Bobcats for granted and CLEARLY didn't show up defensively. The best/worst thing about the NBA regular season is that talent doesn't always triumph over effort. But props to Charlotte for battling and neutralizing most of the Lakers front court with they typical Larry Brown D.
A watershed moment that almost happened. Kobe fouls out in the first OT and with Pau Gasol a complete no-show, the Lakers were forced to call on Andrew Bynum's number to win... and for the first two possessions it worked! Flashback to the pound-it-inside Shaq era as Bynum carried the Lakers early in the second OT with excellent and very patient post moves. And like much of the Shaq era, the Lakers stopped calling Bynum's number, which totally makes sense! Bynum is 2 for 2 with Staples Center feeding off his energy and instead Odom and Vujacic jack up a few terrible shots and provide stellar masonry work... Ballgame Charlotte!
Bynum showed a lot early by willing to shoulder the Lakers offense. Unlike Odom and Gasol, who always fight bouts of sphincteritis down the stretch, Bymum calmly demanded the ball, gathered himself down low and performed well in the post. It's good to see Bynum hold his own with the team relying on him.
Luke W. no longer deserves the Walton moniker. Horribbble...
Terrrribbble...Give up your name Luke! Bill Walton made a name with superb fundamentals and a high hoops IQ. So what does Son of Walton do tonight? With the game tied with 6 seconds left in the first OT he throws away an inbounds pass (despite having Sasha Vujacic W-I-D-E O-P- E-N five feet away), killing the Lakers chance at a last second win (they didn't even take a shot!). Instead Charlotte gets possession with a chance to win with 4 seconds left and because Walton wears forum blue and gold, they didn't turnover the inbounds pass. How do you not pass to the open man FIVE FEET AWAY???
The Lakers Achilles Three. Once again up three with the game on the line, the Lakers defense fails to guard the three ball. The NBA is a drive and kick league so defenses are keyed in on containing penetration. But you NEED to stay at home when a three is the only thing that can hurt you! The Lakers "brain trust" of Odom, Radmanovic and Vujacic continue to struggle at defending the three with the game on the line. This could be a problem come playoff time.
A great game! Very rarely do I leave a Lakers loss feeling satisfied but so many things had to happen for Charlotte to win... and they did. Obviously, if the Lakers gave the same effort as they did on Sunday we're looking at a 15-point win. Credit Charlotte for playing hard on both ends, but also credit the Lakers for their fierce rally to send it into overtime. Charlotte missed several freethrows down the stretch to close out the game and Kobe and Fisher hit clutch threes to tie it up. Mix in the oddity of Kobe fouling out, Gerald Wallace's collapsed lung (BTW - it really didn't look like a hard foul at first, but let's hope Wallace get well soon... will Bynum get suspended?) and the clutch game-tying shot by Fisher at the buzzer and it was a good time at Staples Center.