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Preview: Lakers vs. Bobcats

Last night's humiliating loss to the Celtics was simply one of those nights when the Lakers (23-27) played terrible and Boston couldn't do anything wrong even if they tried. And just like clockwork, Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard were blamed for the loss.

But Howard was aggressive on offense and on the boards despite clearly still favoring his right shoulder. Foul trouble prevented him from staying on the floor as long as the team needed him to be. Bryant had zero assists, the first since New Year's day against the 76ers, and of course, his shooting came under fire again as a perpetrator for the loss. Mind you that he only took 15 shots (making 9) and was actually dishing the ball to open teammates. The problem was none of the teammates he passed it to converted any of the shots they've taken. Can't have an assist without your teammate making the shot. Can't win a lot of games when the rest of the team shoots a combined 24-of-64 (37.5%) from the field.

The good thing is the Lakers can still end this 7-game road trip on a high note if they win tonight and on Sunday versus the Heat.

They are considered one of the NBA's doorstep team, but the Charlotte Bobcats (11-37) are actually one of just 2 teams (other than Boston) in the league that does not have a losing record against the purple and gold. Before their heartbreaking 101-100 loss to the Lakers back in Dec. 18, the Bobcats were leading the franchise series, 8-7.

The Lakers were actually down by as much as 18 points in that game before a 28-4 run got them back in the 3rd quarter. Had Gerald Henderson converted a left-hand layup with a just a few ticks left in the game clock, the Lakers lose that game. So, tonight's matchup is by far not an automatic win for L.A. despite Charlotte having the worst record in the league and the worst team playing at home at 6-18.

Just like the previous meeting, the Lakers have to stop Kemba Walker and former Laker Ramon Sessions in order to win this game. Walker leads his team in points (17.5 PPG), assists (5.6 APG) and in steals (1.9 SPG). He is, without a doubt, the heart and soul of the Bobcats. Allowing another 28-point outing from him again, or 20 points from Sessions, will not serve the Lakers well. It's a must for the Lakers to close open lanes to the basket and make both point guards playmakers rather than layup drill instructors.

This is the final meeting of the season for both teams. The Lakers have taken the last 3 albeit at Staples Center. Tonight is the first visit for L.A. at the Time Warner Cable Arena since Feb. 14, 2011. The Lakers have lost the last 3 games in this building and are 2-5 overall on the road against the Bobcats.

Matchup of the Game

Steve Nash vs. Kemba Walker: Nash didn't go up against Walker in the previous game at Staples Center, but it's important for him to fight through screens and make Kemba work on the defensive end. Steve doesn't need to match Walker's scoring production, but he'll need to look for his shot tonight.

Keys to the Game

> Come Out Aggressive: The Lakers were flat from the start in Boston. They're playing one of the youngest teams in the league, so they better be active from the get-go on both ends of the floor.

> Make Your Shots: It's important for the Lakers to look at this game as a chance to make up for their dismal shooting last night. The Bobcats may be the worst defensive team allowing 103.4 points a game, but they can look like gangbusters on that end of the court if the Lakers keep putting up brick after brick.

> Kobe Bryant: We're not sure which Kobe we're going to see tonight. Hopefully, we'll see "Kobe Johnson" who will not hold his teammates' aweful shooting last night against them in this game. If Bryant goes back to being the facilitator, the Lakers should be alright.

Watch Out For

LAKERS: Role Players: I think the Boston game put a really bad taste in everyone's mouth when you consider how far they've come as a team since beating Utah at Staples Center. Look for the role players to have a better game tonight.

BOBCATS: Byron Mullens: This guy was a force for the Bobcats last time. He finished with 13 points, 17 rebounds and 4 blocks. He's an active big body and has a nice touch from behind the arc. Needless to say, the Lakers can't ignore him.

Game Info

Tonight @ Charlotte Bobcats
Tip-off: 4:00 p.m. (PST)
Time Warner Cable Arena
TV: TWC SportsNet (Southern California)
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/1330 KWKW

Injury Notes

LAKERS: Pau Gasol (foot) is out indefinitely. Jordan Hill (hip) is out for the season. Dwight Howard (shoulder) is questionnable.

BOBCATS: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (concussion) is game-time decision.
 

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Preview: Lakers vs. Bobcats


(Getty Images)

The toughest part of this 7-game road trip may have passed, but that doesn’t mean everything is going to be all downhill for the Lakers (38-17) for the final two games of their roadshow. After a game against Orlando yesterday their offense would like to forget, the 2-time defending champs will be coming into another arena where they haven’t found much success since the Charlotte Bobcats (23-31) moved in.

Since the 2004-05 season, the Lakers have only won twice at the Time Warner Cable Arena with the most recent one occuring Feb. 11, 2008 when the purple and gold defeated Charlotte, 106-97.

With their offense being stagnant yesterday against the Magic, the Lakers will look to improve offensively against the Bobcats. But the last time they were in town they only managed to score 83 points while shooting at 36% from the field. The Lakers also allowed Charlotte to shoot 51.4% of their shots and committed 20 turnovers in that game.

What’s interesting about all of this is the Bobcats aren’t a defensive juggernaut or even high-scoring team. They are 28th in the NBA in scoring producing 93.5 points per game and are ranked 12th defensively giving up 96.5 points per contest. But just like any other team in the league, they get up for the Lakers.

Then again, they have two guys that can score regularly in Stephen Jackson (19.2 PPG) and Gerald Wallace (15.6 PPG) while taking turns defending Kobe Bryant. They also have Tyrus Thomas who is a very active and athletic forward who can give Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom problems on the glass and on the defensiv end. Plus, they now have former-Laker Kwame Brown in the middle to put on against Andrew Bynum. Brown is a quick and strong defender that had some success defending Andrew in the past.

Take all that into account plus their overall energy and effort playing the Lakers on both ends of the floor and you can see why it’s been tough for the champs to put them away on the road.

Kobe will most likely play tonight despite some reports that he is feeling a little under the weather and had to skip this morning’s practice and shootaround. So this is Pau’s chance to redeem himself after a poor performance yesterday in Orlando. In 35 minutes of play, Gasol managed only 11 points and 4 rebounds. His effort defending and keeping Dwight Howard away from the glass in the 4th quarter was sub-par at best.

But the Lakers as a team will need to be up for this game as well. After that whole Bynum-for-Carmelo trade rumors swirling around just before this road trip began, the Lakers have very little room, if any, for any more lackluster games. They most likely have lost their opportunity to catch San Antonio for the top seed in the west being already down

Preview: Lakers vs. Bobcats

The Lakers (46-16) didn’t look like they were prepared for the cluster of road games ahead of them this month against the Heat last night. They lost that game 114-111 in overtime, so fatigue and energy-level could come into effect. But I don’t expect that at all tonight. Not after how the Lakers saved their energy for much of the game against Miami. Then again, they might face another overtime tonight when you consider who they’re playing.

The Bobcats may be 28-31 for the year so far, but they have been one of a handful of teams who always seem to give the Lakers all the trouble they need. Charlotte has yet to be blown out by the Lakers and has forced the Lakers into 6 overtimes the past few meetings. The defending champs won the first game of the season series earlier in the season at Staples Center by only 2 points 99-97.


Expect a pumped up Bobcat team. At least, that’s what Gerald Wallace promised after his team dropped an ugly one against Boston on Wednesday 104-80. Wallace and Stephen Jackson were both held to just 8 points each, and the Bobcats shot 36% the entire night. Hopefully, the Lakers are aware of that and, more importantly, prepared to do a much better job tonight than last night. So, it’s an understatement when I say they have to get right down to business from tip-off.

The Lakers don’t want to start the 11 games on the road with an 0-2 record. Starting to play at a championship-level that we all know they can tonight would be a great time to do it. Who knows how inspired this Bobcat team will be after losing by 24 points their last game? Are the Lakers willing to risk another slow start? They better not.

Charlotte might be heading south right now by losing 6 of their last 10 games, but they are still one of the best teams at home in the east at 20-8. They do most of their damage at the Time Warner Cable Arena, and they do it with defense. The Bobcats are second in the league in that department allowing their opposition only 94.4 points per game. So expect another battle when the Lakers come to town.

Both Nazr Mohammed (back) and Tyson Chandler (ankle) could be available tonight but will be a game-time decision. But it shouldn’t matter to the Lakers who plays or who doesn’t. It’s all about what they do as a team and how they’ll treat the rest of these road games.

The keys for the Lakers tonight are: TEAM BASKETBALL, play DEFENSE, PROTECT the ball, and REBOUND. These are all basic basketball strategies, but it still boggles my mind how easily the Lakers forget. They say that they respect Charlotte, but we’ll see if that translates to something tangible on the court.

Tip-off is at 4:00.  TV: KCAL-9  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!! 

Preview: Lakers vs. Bobcats

The Lakers (46-16) didn’t look like they were prepared for the cluster of road games ahead of them this month against the Heat last night. They lost that game 114-111 in overtime, so fatigue and energy-level could come into effect. But I don’t expect that at all tonight. Not after how the Lakers saved their energy for much of the game against Miami. Then again, they might face another overtime tonight when you consider who they’re playing.

The Bobcats may be 28-31 for the year so far, but they have been one of a handful of teams who always seem to give the Lakers all the trouble they need. Charlotte has yet to be blown out by the Lakers and has forced the Lakers into 6 overtimes the past few meetings. The defending champs won the first game of the season series earlier in the season at Staples Center by only 2 points 99-97.


Expect a pumped up Bobcat team. At least, that’s what Gerald Wallace promised after his team dropped an ugly one against Boston on Wednesday 104-80. Wallace and Stephen Jackson were both held to just 8 points each, and the Bobcats shot 36% the entire night. Hopefully, the Lakers are aware of that and, more importantly, prepared to do a much better job tonight than last night. So, it’s an understatement when I say they have to get right down to business from tip-off.

The Lakers don’t want to start the 11 games on the road with an 0-2 record. Starting to play at a championship-level that we all know they can tonight would be a great time to do it. Who knows how inspired this Bobcat team will be after losing by 24 points their last game? Are the Lakers willing to risk another slow start? They better not.

Charlotte might be heading south right now by losing 6 of their last 10 games, but they are still one of the best teams at home in the east at 20-8. They do most of their damage at the Time Warner Cable Arena, and they do it with defense. The Bobcats are second in the league in that department allowing their opposition only 94.4 points per game. So expect another battle when the Lakers come to town.

Both Nazr Mohammed (back) and Tyson Chandler (ankle) could be available tonight but will be a game-time decision. But it shouldn’t matter to the Lakers who plays or who doesn’t. It’s all about what they do as a team and how they’ll treat the rest of these road games.

The keys for the Lakers tonight are: TEAM BASKETBALL, play DEFENSE, PROTECT the ball, and REBOUND. These are all basic basketball strategies, but it still boggles my mind how easily the Lakers forget. They say that they respect Charlotte, but we’ll see if that translates to something tangible on the court.

Tip-off is at 4:00.  TV: KCAL-9  Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN

GO LAKERS!!! 

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