Prior to Tuesday night's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Charlotte Bobcats, the FOX Sports West broadcast noted a very strange stat: the Lakers franchise has a sub .500 all-time head-to-head record against only two NBA teams, the Boston Celtics and the Charlotte Bobcats. Lakers players may not have known the particulars or peculiarities of that stat, but they did play with a purpose from the opening tip and marched to a 106-73 win. The Bobcats still lead the all-time series 8-7 after Tuesday's blowout loss to the Lakers, but at this point that seems like nothing more than an interesting bit of trivia.
Kobe Bryant walked onto the court almost visibly determined to disprove the idea that Gerald Henderson can effectively defend him. In the first quarter alone, Kobe matched the entire Bobcats team with 18 points, and did so a very impressive 7-12 shooting from the field. He measured Henderson with each dribble and rained jumpers from all over the court on his way to a game-high 24 points -- which he scored before the first half ended. Kobe's early assertion of dominance opened up the paint for Andrew Bynum, who finished the contest with 20 points on 8-11 shooting and a game-high 11 rebounds.
The Lakers took their foot off the gas a bit after opening up a commanding 60-36 lead at halftime and allowed the Bobcats to cut the margin to 15 points after three periods, but then they hit 7-11 threes (12-26 for 46.2 percent for the game) in the fourth to secure the 106-73 win. Boris Diaw scored the opening basket of the game and put Charlotte up 2-0, but that was the only time the Bobcats held the lead on the evening.
For most of the night, Charlotte showed why they hold the NBA's worst record at 3-19. No starter shot even 50 percent from field, and the team hit just 31 of 89 shots for 34.8 percent shooting. Meanwhile, DeSagana Diop and Byron Mullens got outworked and out-muscled in the paint, where the Lakers scored 44 points and finished 66.7 percent of their shots.
With starting point guard D.J. Augustin still out (toe), rookie Kemba Walker got the nod again and helped to ineffectively carry the load along with Gerald Henderson. Walker scored 12 points, dished out 6 assists and limited himself to just 1 turnover in a solid performance, while Henderson led the team with 14 points. Offseason addition Reggie Williams played his first game of the season after knee surgery, and managed to produce 6 points on 3-7 shooting in just over 13 minutes of play. The entire performance looked uninspired and sleepy, but perhaps it was just the talent gap rearing it's ugly head in this one.
For the Lakers, the win moves them to 13-9 overall and marks a two-game winning streak they will test during an upcoming six-game road trip. Meanwhile, the Bobcats drop to an NBA-worst 3-19 and have now lost nine games in a row.