Boxscore: Lakers 106, Bobcats 73
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 120.5, Bobcats 83.0
True Shooting %: Lakers 67.6%, Bobcats 39.7%
The Lakers made three pointers. Lots of them. Of their 26 attempts, 12 of them found the bottom of the net. That 46.2% from deep is the best the Lakers shot from deep all season and if you remove Kobes 2-11(!), the rest of the team made 10 of 15(!!) from behind the arc. Simply a tremendous output for a team that’s struggled to make the long ball all season. When this team can consistently make their outside shots, the offense goes from “meh” to “downright dangerous” in an instant. The Lakers big three are going to continue to draw hard double teams or, at the very least, have secondary defenders lurking and ready to pounce on them when they make a move. By hitting these shots and making the defense pay, opponents will end up having to make the hard choice of single covering guys that do damage against single coverage or allowing shooters to take wide open shots. The Bobcats chose the latter tonight and the Lakers made the shots that were the difference in the game.
Beyond the hot shooting though, the best numbers for me were Kobe and Pau playing 27 and 28 minutes respectively. Kobe got to be a spectator the entire 4th quarter and Pau only played 2 minutes and 30 seconds in the final frame. Considering the heavy workload these two have been putting in recently, those minutes played numbers might actually be the best stat of the night.
(On a side note, honorable mention goes out to the Lakers reserves – especially the 5 man unit of Bynum, Murphy, Barnes, Kapono, and Goudelock. Outside of Bynum’s stellar +18 on the night, the other four players were all at least +22 and combined for 40 points. They ran the offense well, moving the ball onto the open player consistently and not hesitating when the shot was there to be taken. As the game wore on their comfort level with each other was obvious as they were moving well off the ball, helping each other get open and then doing their best to hit the man that broke free. Obviously their hot shooting won’t be there every night (and Bynum won’t always be able to provide that dominant inside presence that gives them all that space on the wing to operate), but tonight it all came together for this group and it was great to watch.)
Another lethargic 3rd quarter from this group. After taking a 22 point lead into half time, the Lakers came out flat after the break and let the ‘Cats shave 9 points off the lead heading into the 4th quarter. The Lakers played sloppily (7 turnovers), settled for jumpers too often, and relaxed on defense – often times barely bothering to rotate to shooters much less contest shots. The Lakers were lucky that their lead was big enough to be able to survive such a bad effort and that the Bobcats didn’t have enough offensive firepower to make them pay even more than they did. Considering the Lakers scored 30 or more points in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th quarters, their 13 point output in the not only sticks out like a sore thumb but tidily tells the story of how hard the Lakers tried that period. Against better teams the Lakers won’t be able to pull that off and they need to be better coming out of the half.
I hate to bury the Bobcats here because as I wrote in the game preview, they’re simply not a good basketball team and are missing two of their better players. But tonight, they simply didn’t do much well and were too quick to settle for the first open shot rather than trying to work for a good open shot. Some of their players showed flashes (Kemba Walker had his moments when attacking off the dribble and Gerald Henderson showed good fight on defense and that burgeoning offensive game) but for the most part they looked slow and disinterested on defense and disorganized on offense. I don’t really blame Paul Silas here (he really is working with a talent deficient group) but outside of their push in the 3rd period this team just didn’t look like a team.
The Play of the Game:
If I could string together all of the Lakers 3 point makes in a single clip, that would go here but instead I offer up a Kobe to Bynum connection. Towards the end of the first half – and after Kobe had torched their defense for 24 points – the Bobcats started to send a second defender in Kobe’s direction to dissuade him from getting to his spots. On this particular play, the Bobcats’ big man came across the lane to show Kobe a strong side zone look but instead of Kobe pulling up for a jumper, he rose up and fired a pin point pass to Bynum for a dunk.