LOS ANGELES — The third quarter has been a problem child for the Lakers this season. The team has made a habit of going into the locker room at halftime and coming out in the third quarter far more sluggish than they’d played the previous 24 minutes.
On Friday night, with the Bobcats in the town, the team didn’t even wait. The Lakers came out sluggish from the opening tip, digging an early ditch in their 110-100 loss to Charlotte.
"They just weren’t ready to play," Lakers head coach Mike D’Antoni said of his team that gave up 31 points including 22 in the paint to Charlotte in the first quarter.
It was "Hollywood Nights" time once again with the Lakers donning their alternate black uniforms. There was no flare or pizzazz to accompany the theme on Friday, except, of course, for Charlotte center Al Jefferson.
Charlotte’s center provided all kinds of sparks in a 40-point, 18-rebound performance. What was the strategy defensively against the Bobcats’ talented big man?
"We tried to hold him under 50," D’Antoni quipped.
The 40 points Jefferson poured on the Lakers on Friday night was the most the team had given up to an opponent this season, surpassing the multiple 38-point performances allowed — most recently by James Harden in Houston earlier this month.
The team simply had no answers for Jefferson.
"We didn’t play him well straight up," Pau Gasol said. "We didn’t play him well double teaming him. It was just very sloppy."
The loss is the 18th in the last 21 games for the Lakers. It comes at the hands of a Bobcats team that was winless in its previous five tries against the Lakers.
It was a night in which they reached the 100-point mark, but for the 14th straight game, allowed 100 points. The Lakers are 2-12 in those contests.
"It feels like a bad nightmare," Jodie Meeks said. "It’s kind of the same story game in and game out."
The nightmare, of course, continued Friday night and the fate of the Lakers was determined at the start of the game. The team’s lackluster effort to start was something they can ill-afford with the injury list as long as it is and the available talent thin.
"We’re just not the type of team that can come out and be listless especially on defense in the first half," D’Antoni said. "We can’t have that.
"They’ve got to understand that the only chance that we have is to have 48 minutes of energy and we didn’t have it."
The Lakers will return to the road for their next three games and could be without Gasol, who after the game announced he will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday.