The Lakers were back home tonight to take on the Charlotte Bobcats. The last time the Lakers faced the Bobcats they were blown out in Charlotte on Valentines Day, in their most lopsided loss of the season. However, one big difference from that game was going to make an impact tonight. A key player in many of the Bobcats victories over the Lakers in the past, Gerald Wallace, was no longer a member of the team after being traded to Portland. The Lakers were looking to extend their winning streak to six games heading into the toughest week of the season.
The game started off with the Bobcats using energy to take an early lead. They managed to hang onto the lead for the first third of the quarter before the Lakers finally started to establish themselves on defense. Led by the big bodies of Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol the Lakers managed to find some defensive rhythm. The Lakers took their first lead of the game at 12-10 and went up 17-12 after going on a 11-2 run.
The quarter ended with the Lakers playing efficient basketball on both ends. They limited turnovers and played aggressive defense. There was no question the Bobcats were struggling without the presence of Gerald Wallace. Lakers’ guard Shannon Brown barely missed a half-court buzzer beater, but Los Angeles still led the Bobcats 29-19 at the end of the first twelve minutes.
The Lakers lead from the first quarter quickly diminished in the second as the Bobcats came out strong. The key to the first half for the Lakers was the size of Andrew Bynum. After a nice offensive rebound and dunk Bynum collected his tenth rebound of the half on the other end of the floor. The problem for the Lakers was too many shots from Kobe Bryant, who shot the ball 17 times in the first half.
The numbers heading into the half looked decent for Los Angeles, but there was still plenty of work left to do. Bryant had 16 points, Gasol added 10 of his own, and Bynum added 13 rebounds of his own to put the Lakers up 45-35 with two quarters left to play.
Los Angeles began the second half a step slow and shooting too many jump shots. It appeared that Charlotte might crawl back into the game, but then Andrew Bynum made his presence known. Bynum altered multiple shots on the defensive end while connecting on multiple buckets on offense. It was evident that Charlotte’s frontline had no chance matching up against the length and size of Bynum.
There was a scary moment for the Lakers late in the quarter when starting PG Derek Fisher went down with an apparent elbow injury. A closer look revealed Fisher got his arm caught between the ball and the Bobcats’ Kwame Brown’s arm, and it resulted in him writhing in pain. Fisher left the court under his own power and went back to the locker room. The Lakers kept up the tough defense and were leading the Bobcats 69-57 heading into the final quarter.
Heading into the fourth the game was the Lakers to lose. If they were able to play diligent basketball they would be able to head out on the road with six straight victories, and as the only undefeated team since the All-Star break. While Fisher was out of the game, the Lakers relied on Gasol and the bench mob to get them through the rest of the game.
As time ran out in Los Angeles the Lakers were on their way to avenging their loss in Charlotte from a month ago. The numbers coming in for the key Los Angeles players looked promising, especially those from Andrew Bynum. The Laker center finished with nine points and 17 rebounds, plus an impressive six blocks to keep the Bobcats at bay. Bryant didn’t have the most efficient game, but still finished with 27 points, despite shooting 10-25 from the floor.
When the clock finally expired in Los Angeles the Lakers had defeated the Bobcats 92-84.