What outcome would you expect if you knew the Bobcats had held Kobe Bryant to 5 points on 12 attempts? Bryant was mostly a non-factor, but the Lakers rode big nights from Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom to victory, winning 99-97. The Cats had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but turned it over on the inbound pass, allowing the Lakers a breakaway layup to put the game away.
With Gerald Wallace sitting out due to a tweaked hamstring, the Cats needed to shut down Bryant to have a shot at this game, and they got exactly that. On the surface, it might appear that Stephen Graham and Stephen Jackson did yeoman's work frustrating Kobe and forcing him into bad shots, but this is an instance when the larger context provides the more likely explanation for what happened. Bryant's been hearing the growing criticism that he's hogging the ball as much as ever, and we can't really ignore how he reacted the last times these criticisms piled up. He wasn't dogging it, per se, but when Kobe isn't Kobe, we can never be sure it was purely an opponent's doing.
It was back and forth deep into the fourth quarter. In a move that certainly qualifies as "outside the box", once Boris Diaw got two fouls in the first quarter, Larry Brown committed significant minutes to a lineup featuring both Nazr Mohammed and DeSagana Diop at the same time. The Lakers play two centers much of the time, so if the Cats were ever going to do this, this was the night, but Nazr and Gana outperformed any reasonable expectations.
Combine that with Jackson playing near the upper range of his abilities, and the Lakers found themselves needing clutch jumpers from the likes of Jordan Farmar late in the fourth.
The Bobcats finish this road trip 3-3, which is plenty to be happy about. Four of the next five games are at home, and then they'll end the month with another long road trip.
Game thread comments, highlights, and lowlights after the jump.
GAME THREAD COMMENTS
Ourdaywillcome -- It's getting bad... The crowd is breaking up into small discussion groups to talk about Rob Schneider’s comeback plans.
Aisander D -- [My Okafor jersey will] be of value around the same time my 2003 Corolla becomes a classic car.
baron_davis needs a fro -- Hey, I'm getting the hang of this being a Bobcat fan thing. 1. Cheer for the team 2. Hate Stephen Graham
-- Dude. Boris Diaw. You're better than this. The whole 0-4 shooting thing was old the first time. And the second. And the third...
-- Please cut Stephen Graham. You'll never convince me that what he does couldn't be done by some combination of Ronald Murray, Derrick Brown, and Gerald Henderson.
-- The Cats turned it over 13 times, which isn't terrible, by their standards. But they only forced 7 turnovers by the Lakers, which is a whole lot of possessions in which L.A. had a chance to score and Charlotte didn't.
-- Holy crap, Nazr Mohammed had himself a night. Playing more than 40 minutes, Mohammed finished with 23 points on 15 attempts and 17 rebounds, 9 of them offensive.
-- Stephen Jackson poured in 30 points on 16 attempts, dished 4 assists, and helped pick up the rebounding load in Gerald's absence, grabbing 7.
-- Even though Andrew Bynum had 14 boards, the Cats outrebounded the Lakers, 45-38.