Basketball

Bobcats success against Kobe, Lakers no fluke

The Charlotte Bobcats once again made the L.A. Lakers their lap dog Tuesday night.

Inexplicably, unbelievably, the Bobcats own the Lakers. They don't rent them. They own them.

Charlotte's 94-84 win against the Lakers Tuesday night in front of a jacked-up sellout “home” crowd made the Bobcats 6-1 in their last seven games vs. one of the best teams in the world.

It's not a fluke. It's not an April Fools Day joke. The 19,568 fans in Time Warner Cable Arena can attest to that – and at least half of them are sorry about it, judging from the inordinate number of purple-and-gold jerseys.

The Lakers are 58-14 this season against the rest of the NBA and 0-2 against your Charlotte Bobcats, who once again frustrated Kobe Bryant and constantly pushed the ball inside.

“We didn't give it away,” the Lakers' Lamar Odom said. “They took it.”

Kobe needed 28 shots to score his 25 points. Each time Kobe did score, many in the crowd screamed enthusiastically. It sounded almost exactly like it did when Michael Jordan scored for the Chicago Bulls against the old Charlotte Hornets in the early 1990s. Indeed, this game had the feel of a Hornets game in the good old days, before George Shinn grabbed a starring role on Court TV and the arena issue got ugly.

This time, Jordan sat next to Charlotte's bench. He was wearing jeans and as animated as ever, getting up to protest officials' calls or offer advice to Boris Diaw.

Amazingly, Kobe wasn't the best player on the floor Tuesday. Instead, it was Gerald Wallace, who continued his spectacular run with 21 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks and four assists.

Kobe looked furious in the final seconds, scowling as the Bobcats celebrated. But he was muted afterward.

“They play us really well, obviously,” Kobe said.

They sure do. If the Bobcats (34-40) played this crisply every night, they wouldn't still be No.9 in the playoff race.

The Bobcats got more help Tuesday night and are now just a game out of eighth, but tonight they must win in Boston or risk falling back again.

Nevertheless, Tuesday night was huge. It came before the largest crowd ever to see a Bobcats game in Time Warner Cable Arena.

Before the game, Bobcats coach Larry Brown had said of the Lakers: “That franchise has everything. They only come to town once (a year)…. I'm sure a lot of the fans are coming to see Kobe and hopefully we can play good enough to get some fans back. I think that's important.”

They certainly did that.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson said his team didn't play with the “vigor” it needed.

Jackson had gotten a pregame visit from Jordan, as the two reminisced about the old days with the Bulls.

“Good luck, Phil Jackson,” Jordan said sarcastically as he exited the Lakers' locker room.

Was Jordan serious?

No, Jackson said, adding of his former star: “He's trying to psych us out.”

Like everything else the Bobcats did Tuesday night, it worked.

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