From Dexter Fishmore, Silver Screen and Roll: In theory, there are ways this could’ve been more embarrassing. The Lakers could’ve lost this badly, say, in Cleveland instead of Charlotte. Kwame Brown could’ve celebrated the Bobcats’ 20-point win by throwing a birthday cake in Luke Walton’s grill. Or the Lakers could’ve all forgotten to wear shorts and been forced to stand at center court while the Bobcats’ cheerleaders pointed and laughed. Barring these scenarios, though, tonight really could not have unfolded any more disastrously for the Lakers, who got their skulls caved in by Charlotte, 89 to 109. Just like that, we have a promising new candidate for Worst Loss of the Season.
From Mark Medina, LA Times: In the words of The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy, this was the “worst Lakers loss…..ever.” Or at least for the season. I’ll get into the nuts and bolts in latter categories on why the Lakers’ eighth loss in the last 10 games against Charlotte fits that description. But let’s first establish a few things on what this game actually means. It’s not healthy to view this through a sky-is-falling prism, pointing out that the Lakers need to trade their lineup or that the defending champions’ chances to three-peat are already doomed. The Lakers had just gone through a 4-0 start to their seven-game trip and are less than a week removed from defeating the Boston Celtics in what served as their most impressive win of the season. But that’s exactly the same reason why the Lakers and their fans shouldn’t be as equally dismissive either, citing the Lakers’ boredom and fatigue, Kobe Bryant’s illness or other factors to shrug off this loss. What’s more egregious isn’t necessarily that the Lakers didn’t bring a full effort, it’s that this game perfectly captures how the Lakers address their preparation, effort and games in a situational manner.
From Mike Cranston, Lakers.com: Gerald Wallace had 20 points and 11 rebounds and the Charlotte Bobcats routed the Los Angeles Lakers 109-89 on Monday night to extend one of the more bizarre one-sided matchups in the NBA. Gerald Henderson added 18 points for the Bobcats, who have won eight of the past 10 meetings with the defending NBA champions. The Lakers have a winning record against every team except the Boston Celtics – and the Bobcats. And this time it wasn’t even close. While Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, he missed 11 of his first 16 shots as he played despite an illness that kept him from shootaround. Angry Lakers coach Phil Jackson used all but one full timeout before the fourth quarter, but couldn’t prevent the Lakers from their most lopsided loss of the season.
From Brian Kamenetzky, Land O’ Lakers: 19 points at home to Milwaukee. 16 points at home to Miami. 15 points on the road to San Antonio. By 19 at home to Memphis, five at home to Sacramento (when it’s the Kings, the loss need not be by double digits), and 13 at home to Boston. Sunday, it was 14 in Orlando. To the list, Monday’s 20 point loss to the Bobcats can now be added. Phil Jackson, speaking to the media after the game, was brief on a level Calvin Coolidge would have appreciated. “I just have this to say; I’m very disappointed in our performance tonight. I’m embarrassed about what we did. That’s it.”
From Arash Markazi, ESPNLA: Paul Westhead is admittedly an unorthodox coach. The former Shakespeare professor shaped his high-speed coaching philosophy on the smoldering courts of San Juan, Puerto Rico. Nothing was ever too far outside the box for Westhead, not even starting his rookie point guard at center in Game 6 of the NBA Finals in Philadelphia with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar sidelined by a sprained ankle. Johnson played all five positions in what was the most impressive game of his Hall of Fame career. He finished with 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a block. The image of Johnson walking to center court for the jump ball against Caldwell Jones before the game is still one of the most indelible in Lakers history. Johnson became the first (and still only) rookie to win NBA Finals MVP en route to winning his first of five championships as a Lakers player.
From Arash Markazi, ESPNLA: It’s hard to pinpoint one moment or one call that defined the career of Chick Hearn, who called 3,338 games in a row and was the play-by-play man for nine championship Lakers teams. Perhaps it was a moment when Hearn wasn’t even there. On Nov. 20, 1965, the Lakers beat the Golden State Warriors 133-117 in Las Vegas while Hearn was in Fayetteville, Ark., stranded in an airport due to inclement weather after calling a college football game. He didn’t miss another game for the next 36 years. Hearn coined the phrases “slam dunk” and “air ball” and provided an exclamation point to wins most fans and players can still recite: “You can put this one in the refrigerator. The door’s closed, the light’s are out, the eggs are cooling, the butter’s getting hard and the Jell-O is jiggling.” Hearn’s streak came to an end Dec. 16, 2001, when he had to have an operation for a blocked aortic valve. He returned April 9, 2002, and called every Lakers playoff game en route to the team’s third consecutive title, an amazing accomplishment considering he fell and broke his hip while recovering from surgery. Two months after the Finals, Hearn fell and struck his head at home. He died on Aug. 5.