I'm beginning to run low on synonyms for "defeated."
I need to start building my vocabulary around that word now, because it's going to happen a lot more before this season is through.
You could tell it was coming early on in the game. Kobe Bryant seemed determined to burn the Staples Center to the ground with his hot shooting, matching the Bobcats' score in the first quarter, but on 14 fewer shot attempts. Gerald Henderson played admirable defense on Kobe for the most part, but as I said before the game: "Maybe you are playing the best defense of your life against him. But if he's on, you're going to need more to slow him down." Kobe pulled out his full arsenal of moves in dropping 24 points on the Bobcats in the first half. He would go on to miss everything else he took the rest of the game to finish with a marginally efficient scoring night.
Couple Kobe's hot shooting with the Lakers' frontcourt battling Tyrus Thomas/Boris Diaw/Byron Mullens/DeSagana Diop and it's clear how Los Angeles scampered to a 60-36 first-half lead. Andrew Bynum absolutely demolished Mullens and Diop, with talented footwork and size and strength that no Bobcat could stop.
The third quarter surprisingly featured a Bobcats comeback mounted by Gerald Henderson, et al. If there was one thing the Bobcats did well last night it was offensive rebounding. To be honest, I'm not even sure how that happens against this Lakers frontcourt with that size. The Bobcats' wings just out-hustled opponents even just for tips to keep the rebounding possibility alive. Andrew Bynum's help defense was weak and the Bobcats took advantage with cuts to the basket and dumping the ball off on drives in the paint.
With the deficit cut to 11, many were stupefied that the Bobcats had even climbed back into the game. But it would be short-lived as the Lakers shifted into the next gear and put the pedal to the metal, riding amazing three-shooting to a 33-point victory.
Odds and Ends
Kemba was decent. He sure wasn't spectacular, but he wasn't bad, with 12 points on 11 FGA, 6 rebounds, 6 assists and one turnover. He passed pretty well and didn't take too many shots, though I definitely thought he would after finishing with 7 FGA in the first quarter. He would have had even more assists if Tyrus Thomas had been able to knock down open jump shots. Which reminds me: it was amazing how open the Bobcats could get for jumpers yet couldn't convert them if their life depended on it. They did settle for midrange jumpers a good bit, but for the most part, a ton of them were pretty open. I'd like to see some more movement on offense, whether that's cuts or whatever. It's hard to get in the paint as just one man with everyone else standing around like bumps on a log.
Other bright spots included Gana Diop's rebounding (3 OReb, 8 total), Reggie Williams scoring six points in his first game after injury and Derrick Brown playing as smart as I've seen from him in a while (12 points on 8 FGA, 3 reb).