I'm surprised we weren't taken out by C.H.U.D. in the process of filming.
Lamar Odom: A game high 19 points, 13 of which came in the second half when the Lakers were playing with a hobbled Kobe Bryant (in part because LO accidentally hobbled him, but that's another story). Odom scored the team's final six points of the third quarter after entering the game for Andrew Bynum. Significantly, all six were at or on their way to the bucket. He then started the fourth by burying an 18-footer, then assisted on a Shannon Brown triple pushing L.A.'s lead to six. Odom was a dominant figure in the second half, whether dropping a spectacular, back-to-the-basket lefty layup for the and-one or getting a critical tip on the offensive glass to give the Lakers a four-point lead with 1:02 to play. One big reason for Odom's success? He spent most of the night attacking the basket. Maybe I'm forgetting a game or two here or there, but I can't remember a night this season Odom spent so much time in the paint as an offensive player. Overall, it was a night serving to remind those who need it of his value to the team.
Andrew Bynum: He missed some shots- and I mean missed- early on, but when the dust settled Bynum had 17 points on eight-for-14 shooting, plus 14 critical rebounds and a blocked shot. It was nice to see Drew have a solid line without necessarily dominating a game. Good players do that from time to time, quietly assembling stats.
In the video above, Andy and I praised the way in which the Lakers continued to work the offense despite early struggles, found some balance (seven players with nine-plus shots, no player with more than 14), and continued to work the ball inside in one form or another until it eventually paid off. One thing we didn't mention? Turnovers. The Lakers had only seven, yielding a scant eight points for the visitors. One foolproof way to let a lesser team stick in a game is to give them an abundance of cheap points. The Lakers gave up too many offensive rebounds (17 of them on 45 Charlotte misses, about 37% if my math is correct), a bad thing, but had it been compounded by TO's, the Bobcats would have likely stolen a victory. There have been a few games where a little more carelessness could have cost the Lakers. This was one, and it's reflective of the ways in which good teams manage to win games on nights where the wheels aren't spinning smoothly.
Folks, it's late. I need to go home. So allow me to summarize: They shot the ball very poorly, particularly in the first half. Good looks, horribly executed. That'll happen. Still, had you checked some lines in the box score early in the third, it might have brought a tear. Obviously Kobe's injury is a potentially tough pill to swallow, depending on the severity. Pau Gasol was obviously growing frustrated, but at hit a few key buckets in the second half and showed a lot of emotion in the process. Nice to see. The critical moment for him came in the third, when he converted a tough Kobe lob inside while being mugged, creating the and-one. Defensively, there were too many breakdowns late, when Charlotte turned an eight point Lakers advantage with 5:27 to play into a far more worrisome one point cushion with 1:38 to play. The breakdowns forced PJ to stick Bryant back in the game, something he obviously would have preferred not to do. And I mentioned the problems on the defensive glass already. I think that covers most of the important stuff.
Plenty more to come tomorrow. If you missed it, here's all the video from Phil Jackson's postgame media confab.