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Down Go the Lakers

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I'll have more later, as it's far too late to put together a lengthy reflection on this game, but here's the all-encapsulating point, the story that should lead every NBA roundup tomorrow:

The Bobcats' medium and long term prospects are still pretty bleak, and the short term prospects are now muddied, since Gerald Wallace left the Lakers game with an apparently serious injury to his ribs. However, some way, some how, this year Charlotte fans are getting to watch a team that's better than the sum of its parts, that will buck for a playoff spot despite not having an All Star, and, as of 1:35am, January 28, the rest of the league better be on notice, since the Bobcats have beaten the Hornets, Suns, Pistons, Blazers, Celtics, and now the Lakers.

Furthermore, pending Wallace's health, they still have a lot more room to get better than to revert to some lower level of performance. Diaw is already back to earth. Bell's offense is still below what he did in 06-07. Felton is the exact same player he's always been. Wallace is having his least productive season since 04-05. Okafor has upped his efficiencies, but the counting totals of his offensive production are the same as they've always been. When DJ Augustin returns, they'll have a starter-quality bench player, and if they can get one more pro's pro in exchange for Adam Morrison, Sean May, or whomever, then they'll be the most dangerous of the 6-8 seeds in the East. They will be a nightmare for the Celtics or Magic, provided they get there.

All that said, the long term health of the franchise is still in the danger zone. A playoff appearance would be amazing fun, but building sustained success should be the real goal.