Game Notes: Bobcats at Lakers
Jackson adds another notch on his belt.
The all-time greatest. It’s a moniker Phil Jackson could get used to.
With Wednesday’s 99-97 win over Charlotte at home in Staples Center, the Zen Master passed Pat Riley for most coaching victories in Lakers history, a total that currently stands at 534 and figures to balloon by the time he’s done in Los Angeles.
“It’s been a really good run,” Jackson said to a room full of reporters during the press conference afterward. ”The fact that we’ve had some great teams, great players, is always a credit to them. It’s not really an individual record in my mind.”
By no means was the victory easy. Jackson had to put in work, especially after Kobe Bryant headed to the locker room just before halftime with an ankle injury.
Eventually, he returned but was never the same the rest of the way. Bryant finished with five points on 2-12 shooting from the field, including a 1-5 effort from beyond the three-point arc. Making matter worse, he missed both of his free-throws attempts.
No Bryant. No problem. That is, of course, if you’re Phil Jackson.
Similar to the way that he’s operated in the past, the head honcho of the Lakers ended up pushing all the right buttons.
His substitution patterns worked well against the Bobcats. The starters produced for Jackson. The bench gave the Zen Master maximum effort. All told, five different players scored in double digits which was paramount for the Lakers considering Kobe was hobbled.
It was a collective effort. One Jackson should be particularly proud of given the fact that the Bobcats have given the Lakers fits in their recent meetings.
It might not have been pretty, but the Lakers did enough to win on a night that was seemingly destined for Jackson to add his name to the list of all-time Laker greats.
*** Speaking with Gerald Wallace is on the top of my list. Unfortunately, the wing isn’t in a talkative mood after being bombarded with question after question about his status for the game. Turns out, a hamstring injury will keep him out of the lineup tonight.
*** Prior to the opening tip, Bryant makes his way out to mid-court and receives a standing ovation from the sellout crowd for recently breaking the franchise record for most career points, a mark previously held by Jerry West with 25,192.
*** Being in Los Angeles, in close proximity to Hollywood, you get the feeling the Lakers are going to do something to commemorate Bryant’s moment. Fittingly, West is in attendance. He walks over to Kobe, and following an embrace, as well as an exchange of a few words, he presents Bryant with a game ball for a job well-done. Again, the fans, all 18,997 of them, go crazy. Hopefully, at some point, we’re going to play basketball. Enough with the pomp and circumstance already.
*** Andrew Bynum is active. Bryant throws an errant alley-oop to Pau Gasol, who manages to gather the ball while somehow noticing his fellow frontcourt mate cutting to the basket. A nice pass to Bynum leads to a two-handed dunk. Minutes later, Bynum scores on a tip-in and the Lakers are up 11-9 at 6:18. Tell you what, the Bobcats could be in for a long night if they don’t start figuring out a way to stop Bynum, or at the very least, slow the big kid down.
*** Raymond Felton is feeling it. Really feeling it. A pair of jumpers and a three-pointer gives the Bobcats a two point lead with 4:33 left.
*** Bynum is back at it. His layup keeps the Lakers close. They trail 19-17 at 1:51. When all is said and done, he finishes with 8 points and 9 rebounds over the course of the first 12 minutes. Not too shabby. Let’s see if he can keep it up.
*** Felton responds. He makes a tough floater in the lane, and surprisingly, Charlotte is on top, 21-19, at the end of one.
*** Say what you want about Stephen Jackson and his so-called attitude, the guy can ball. Straight up ball. He fills it up, no doubt about it. After scoring eight points early on, he knocks down a jumper and adds a pair of free-throws to keep the Bobcats close. They trail by three points at 7:03.
*** With Bynum on the bench, Gasol gets assertive underneath. Back-to-back baskets are followed by a free-throw and a bank shot. All of a sudden, the Lakers regain the lead, 34-32, with 5:26 remaining.
*** In search of a spark, the Bobcats receive one from their bench. D.J. Augustin, Flip Murray and Derrick Brown combine for 13 points over a five-minute stretch to tie the score, 38-38, at the 3:18 mark.
*** Kobe gets on the board. Finally. He scores his first points of the game, on a shot from way downtown, with 2:04 before the break to give the Lakers a three-point advantage. Can’t believe it took so long.
*** No he didn’t. Shannon Brown uses a nice crossover move to shake Felton and takes off for a one-handed dunk that brings everyone in Laker Land to their feet. The lead is 47-43 with less than a minute left.
*** This can’t be good. Bryant is hobbling off the court. He’s going directly to the locker room. Details to follow.
*** Bynum finishes the first half exactly the same way he started it: He‘s aggressive on the offensive end of the floor. His layup just before the buzzer sounds gives the Lakers a two-point lead at intermission.
*** Laker fans breathe a big sigh of relief. Kobe is back out on the floor to start things, and at 9:37, he hits a 13-footer. That’s a good sign.
*** Minutes later, Gasol hustles down the court and Bryant rewards the big man with a pass that leads to a layup and a free-throw. The three-point play, the conventional way, keeps the Lakers ahead, 57-55, with 5:56 left. Gasol finishes with 14 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 3 blocks.
*** Jackson is resilient. What else is new, right? He scores six consecutive points for the Bobcats, who trail by a bucket at 2:24.
*** It’s official, I’ve seen it all. DeSagana Diop steps to the stripe at 3:21 and throws up a pair of airballs from the free-throw line.
*** With Bryant on the sidelines, Lamar Odom scores six straights points of his own. The Lakers lead 72-67 at the end of three.
*** Odom is still hot. He knocks down a jumper from out on the wing. On the next trip for the Lakers, he draws a double-team and finds an open Brown, who buries one from way downtown to extend the lead to six points at 10:32.
*** No idea how Odom just made that basket. I’ll try to explain it. With his back to the basket, he throws up a no-look shot over his head that banks off the glass before finding the bottom of the net. Best part is, Murray fouls him on the play and Odom steps to the line and knocks down the free-throw. The Lakers keep their distance, 85-81, at 7:13*** Not to be outdone, Jackson converts a layup, sinks two free-throws and makes a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 87-84 with 6:20 left. He ends up with 30 points on 10-16 shooting with 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals.
*** After getting an extended rest on the bench, Bryant makes an appearance with 2:55 remaining and the Lakers ahead by four points. His presence, however, doesn’t make much of an impact, statistically speaking, that is.
*** At 1:01, Odom tips in a Ron Artest miss. The lead appears more than comfortable, 97-92. In reality, this one should be over.
*** With 9.7 ticks left on the on the clock, the Bobcats have a chance. Gasol steals Felton’s inbounds pass though and finds Farmar for a dunk. Lakers win 99-97. The celebration for Phil Jackson’s record-breaking victory begins.
*** Let’s take a quick look at the box score for the Lakers. Bynum finished with 17 points and 14 rebounds in 36 minutes of action. Odom came off the bench and played well. He ended up 19 points, 7 boards and 3 steals.
*** Can’t forget to mention the solid effort put forth by Nazr Mohammed. He had a monster game and a monster dunk over Bynum. It was sick. Bynum won’t like seeing a replay of that one. Mohammed finished with 23 points, on 9-15 shooting, and 17 rebounds. With Wallace out, playing well was important for Mohammed. Charlotte had no chance, none whatsoever, if the big man didn’t come up big and play big, like he did from start to finish. Enough said.
*** It seems as if Kobe gets banged up, in some way, shape or form, on a weekly basis. In the locker room, he offered up his latest diagnosis on an ankle that was already bothering him: “It’s just stiff and tight,” Bryant said. “It just made it worse.” Our guess is that he won’t miss any time because of the setback. It’s not Kobe’s style.