Having polished off their second subpar opponent in a row, the Los Angeles Lakers are turning their attention to a sore spot – the road.
Kobe Bryant scored 24 points, Andrew Bynum added 20, and the Lakers beat slumping Charlotte 106-73 on Tuesday night in their final home game before beginning their annual Grammy trip on Friday at Denver.
The Lakers have been a dominant 11-2 at home, but are just 2-7 away from Staples Center.
”We just got to do our job, that’s all. Go out, play hard, play physical and rebound the ball,” Bryant said. ”These road losses that we’ve had, the consistent factor has been teams getting on the offensive boards against us and we have to do a much better job of that.”
Bynum had 11 rebounds, while Pau Gasol had 10 points and Andrew Goudelock keyed a big night for the bench with 12 points as the Lakers’ reserves outscored the Bobcats’ bench 48-30. Bryant, Fisher and Metta World Peace sat out the entire fourth quarter, when Bynum and Gasol each played less than five minutes.
”They played extremely well,” Bryant said of the bench. ”It’s on them to make the most of it and if they don’t, I have to come back in there, Pau has to come back in there, Andrew has to come back in there, and we have to play the whole second half or whatever the case is.”
It was the Lakers’ biggest victory against the Bobcats, who had beaten Los Angeles in eight of their previous 11 meetings. The Lakers have now topped the 100-point mark in each of their last two wins after failing to do so in 13 consecutive games.
Gerald Henderson scored 14 points in his return after a two-game absence because of a lower back contusion for the Bobcats, who fell to 1-11 on the road and 3-19 overall with their ninth consecutive loss. Derrick Brown added 12 points and Kemba Walker 12 coming off his triple-double against Washington on Saturday. Boris Diaw added 11.
”We’ve got a horrible record and we’re trying to make our way back up,” Henderson said. ”We’re starting to get guys back healthy. In fact, it seems like every game we get a new guy back. So hopefully, as we get more acclimated to each other, things will start improving.”
The Bobcats were well-rested, not having played since that three-point loss, but that didn’t help the league’s worst team.
”It’s been hard, but we’re a very young club and we’re in a rebuilding mode, so there’s basically nothing you can do,” coach Paul Silas said. ”When I took over last year in December, we had about five or six of the players we have on the team right now. So it’s been tough. My thing is, I love winning. And it’s been hard on me, very difficult.”
The rout was well under way in the first quarter, when Bryant racked up 18 points in 10 1/2 minutes and the Lakers led 30-18. He had six more points in the second quarter and the Lakers went into halftime ahead, 60-36.
Bryant helped turn a five-point lead into 20 points in a 26-11 spurt over the end of the first quarter and start of the second with eight points, while Goudelock added seven and Bynum six. The Bobcats actually outscored Los Angeles in the third, 22-13, as Bryant went scoreless, but they still trailed 73-58.
”I didn’t like the third quarter and how we allowed them to come back in the game,” Gasol said. ”But I really liked the fourth quarter where our bench really got going, made simple plays, moved the ball, found the open shooters and it got a lot better for us.”
With Bryant on the bench the entire fourth, soon joined by Bynum, the Lakers’ reserves put on a 3-point shooting clinic. They reeled off seven consecutive treys to push their lead to 98-70. Troy Murphy had hit three 3s, Jason Kapono chipped in two, and Goudelock and Barnes had one each. Murphy finished with 12 points and Barnes 10.
”We got a lot of shooters on this team, with our second group especially,” Goudelock said. ”They can stretch out the floor with Troy Murphy and Kapono obviously, and we got Bynum down low, so they can’t really double team because if they do, they really have to pick their poison.”
Bryant has bestowed the nickname ”Mini Mamba” on Goudelock.
”It’s a very big compliment, especially coming from the real Mamba,” the rookie said.
World Peace got his second straight start in place of Barnes, but he wasn’t a factor with two points, two rebounds, two assists and four fouls in 23 minutes.
Notes: Lakers coach Mike Brown said the team has inquired about Orlando G Gilbert Arenas, a free agent. ”We’ve called to see what his status is. That’s it,” he said. Brown said there’s no plans to bring Arenas in for a workout. ”I have not talked to him, I have not watched any tape on him. It’s really just conversation,” he said. … The Lakers’ previous biggest win against Charlotte was 11 points in January 2005. … Reserve Lakers G Steve Blake, out with broken cartilage in his ribs, has been cleared to run on a treadmill, but there’s no timetable for his return. … Asked about Blake Griffin’s dunk for the Clippers a night earlier, Brown said: ”It was fantastic.”