LOS ANGELES – The Charlotte Bobcats went the distance and beyond Tuesday night with the Lakers. It is a journey the Bobcats have taken before. Both have been successful treks.
With Kobe Bryant watching helplessly on the bench, Charlotte took control in the second overtime Tuesday night to secure the victory.
Not only have the Bobcats won six of the past seven meetings against the Lakers but Charlotte has won the past three times the teams have played at Staples Center.
Back on Dec. 29, 2006, Charlotte defeated the Lakers 133-124 in triple-overtime in Charlotte. The Lakers now have experienced two extra-session losses to Charlotte, a franchise that only came into existence four seasons ago.
The Lakers played the second overtime period without their star and the league’s best closer, Bryant, who fouled out with 39.8 seconds remaining in the first overtime session. Bryant went to the bench having scored 38 points. It was the first time this season that Bryant was disqualified on fouls.
The Lakers played the majority of the game without their Bench Mob ace Trevor Ariza, who suffered a concussion in the second quarter. But Charlotte lost its best offensive player, Gerald Wallace, in the fourth quarter, when he was hip checked to the floor, on a drive to the basket, by Lakers center Andrew Bynum.
It was ruled a flagrant 1 on Bynum but Wallace was taken to the locker room and was unable to shoot his free throws. Wallace later was taken to Centinela Medical Center and was to remain there overnight. Wallace was given a CT exam to see if he had suffered a collapsed lung. An X-ray also was administered to see if Wallace suffered a fractured rib.
It has been the Bobcats’ style to bleed as much time off the shot clock on most offensive possessions, which reduces the possessions for both teams in games and usually results in lower-scoring games.
But Charlotte altered their script somewhat Tuesday, which resulted in a free-scoring first half, by the Bobcats’ standards.
The Lakers trailed for the majority of the first half and were behind by as many as 10 points. Despite not having a imposing inside presence, the Bobcats outscored the Lakers 34-20 in the paint, in the first half.
A large chunk of those points were scored on aggressive drives to the basket by Wallace and point guard Raymond Felton.
Bryant missed his first five shots of the game but started to find his target in the second quarter, when he sank 4 of his 5 field-goal attempts. Bryant’s baseline drive to the basket triggered a pair of passes that ended in Derek Fisher’s 3-pointer, with 13.3 seconds remaining in the half that gave the Lakers a 48-47 lead, their first advantage since the first quarter.
But Felton responded with a short pull-up jumper, with nine-tenths of a second left and the Bobcats took a 49-48 halftime lead into the locker room.
Bynum finished with 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots. It marked Bynum’s fourth consecutive points-rebounds double-double. In the past 11 games, Bynum is averaging 20.2 points.
The loss was a disappointed prelude to the Lakers’ upcoming six-game road trip that will feature games at Cleveland and at Boston.
“We’re looking forward to this trip,” Bryant said. “We’re going to go out there, defend, play solid basketball and see if we can’t beat ‘em.”