Lakers 99, Bobcats 97

With his superstar hobbling and the Charlotte Bobcats refusing

to go away, Phil Jackson never got terribly comfortable while

becoming the winningest coach in Los Angeles Lakers history.

Andrew Bynum had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Lamar Odom

scored 19 points while making several big plays down the stretch,

making sure Jackson added another superlative to his matchless

coaching career in Los Angeles’ 99-97 victory over the Bobcats on

Wednesday night.

Jackson, also the winningest coach in Chicago Bulls history,

passed Pat Riley with his 534th win with the Lakers. The Hall of

Famer won 545 games and six titles in nine seasons with Michael

Jordan and Co. before winning four more rings in his first nine

seasons with the Lakers, rising to fifth on the NBA’s career

coaching victories list when he passed Charlotte’s Larry Brown

earlier this season.

“It’s been a really good run,” Jackson said. “Having this

opportunity to coach this team is always special. The fact that

we’ve had some great teams, great players, is always a credit to

them. It’s not really an individual record in my mind.”

Jackson is the winningest playoff coach in NBA history, and the

only coach to win more than 70 percent of his regular-season games.

Against the pesky Bobcats, he managed to coax a late-game win out

of his Lakers even with just a season-low five points from Kobe

Bryant.

Bryant aggravated his already-sore left foot when Odom stepped

on it late in the first half. His jumping and speed obviously

compromised, Bryant then failed to score in the fourth quarter of

his first single-digit scoring game of the season.

“It was just stiff – stiff and tight,” said Bryant, who’s

already playing with a broken finger on his shooting hand. “Lamar

stepped on my foot as I was changing directions, so … it just

made it worse. It just set it back to Square One.”

Pau Gasol and Ron Artest scored 14 points apiece for the Lakers,

who returned from an eight-game trip to improve the NBA’s best home

record to 24-3 with their eighth consecutive victory at Staples

Center.

“We struggled against them for a while, and we were able to

play pretty well even though it wasn’t our best game,” Gasol

said.

The Lakers hadn’t been home since beating Orlando on Jan. 18.

The defending champions went just 5-3 on their East Coast trip,

staying atop the Western Conference but struggling against the

demands of a schedule that includes four more games in the next

seven days.

Stephen Jackson scored 30 points for the Bobcats, who played

without injured All-Star Gerald Wallace in the finale of a six-game

trip. Nazr Mohammed added 23 points and 17 rebounds, but the

Bobcats couldn’t quite pull ahead to beat the Lakers for the fourth

straight time, even with Bryant’s woes.

“Everybody played good, (but) they’ve got such length and depth

and size,” Brown said. “We weren’t exactly perfect, but we were

pretty darn good. … We’re getting better. We compete every

night.”

Neither team took a lead larger than seven points in the first

three quarters, and Charlotte quickly erased an eight-point Lakers

lead in the fourth. Mohammed’s fallaway jumper with 1:38 to play

trimmed Los Angeles’ lead to 93-92, but Gasol responded with a

quick hook shot before blocking Jackson’s driving layup.

After Odom tipped home Artest’s layup, Bryant missed a 3-pointer

with 20 seconds left to give the Bobcats a final chance to tie. But

Jordan Farmar forced a turnover on Jackson’s pass on a muddled

inbounds play, and made a fast-break dunk on a pass from Gasol with

4.5 seconds left.

“I had everybody confused,” Brown said. “That was my fault.

We had another timeout where I don’t think anybody really

understood what we were trying to do, so that was on me. I told

them all afterwards that that was just an old coach doing a stupid

thing.”

Flip Murray made a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to trim the

final margin.

“(A win) would have made a good road trip a great road trip,

but they did what they had to do down the stretch, and that’s what

good teams do,” Mohammed said. “We’re still growing, and that is

where we’re going to be.”

Wallace, the first All-Star in Bobcats history, strained his

left hamstring late in their loss at Portland on Monday night. He

skipped Wednesday’s shootaround, but wasn’t ruled out until game

time, with Stephen Graham starting in his place.

Bryant’s eventful night began with a standing ovation from a

pregame ceremony in which Lakers great Jerry West presented him

with a game ball in recognition of Bryant’s ascension to the top of

the Lakers’ career scoring list. Bryant passed West on Monday night

during the Lakers’ loss at Memphis.

NOTES: Los Angeles improved to 5-6 against Charlotte in the

Bobcats’ brief history. The Boston Celtics are the only other NBA

franchise with a winning record against the Lakers. … The Bobcats

will be back at Staples Center in 17 days to face the Clippers. …

Lakers G Derek Fisher made the 1,000th 3-pointer of his career. …

Courtside fans included Taylor Lautner, television host Olivia Munn

and Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine.