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It's effortless for Lakers

Even for them, a 15-point loss to the Bobcats is uninspired. Gasol three-game streak in jeopardy.

March 06, 2010|Mike Bresnahan

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Lakers lost again to the Charlotte Bobcats, which hardly passes as news any longer, though they continued to earn headlines by putting forth another indescribably uninspired effort.

After a long night in Miami, the Lakers showed up in plenty of time to play the Bobcats, as confirmed by a box score that also revealed several other unsettling concepts, starting with the Bobcats' 98-83 victory Friday at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Pau Gasol continued to play far below All-Star level, the Lakers kept treating March like exhibition season and Kobe Bryant seemed angry at it all for the first time in recent memory.

None of it would be endorsed by Lakers' fans, except perhaps the final part, Bryant quietly burning in the fourth quarter and again after the game while talking to reporters.

He didn't shoot well, making nine of 21 attempts on the way to 26 points, and was tight-lipped in a postgame interview.

Had he talked to his teammates yet about putting forth a better effort?

"I'll probably say something," Bryant said.

Kind or unkind?

"What do you think?" he said.

Nobody seemed to be in a perky mood, for obvious reasons.

The Lakers fell to 2-4 in Charlotte and 5-7 overall against the Bobcats, who have never made the playoffs.

By the numbers, it wasn't the Lakers' worst loss of the season, a dishonor reserved for a 105-79 blowout in Denver back in mid-November. In terms of effort, Friday might have been the lowest of the low. The Lakers earned next to nothing.

The Bobcats came into the game with the NBA's 28th-ranked offense, but looked like the Globetrotters against the Lakers, scoring at will and having fun doing it.

Not so for the Lakers.

Bryant rolled his eyes when Gasol wasn't ready for a behind-the-back entry pass in the fourth quarter. When Bryant left the game for good, he sat at the end of the bench next to Lamar Odom, staring vacantly and talking to nobody during the final few minutes.

In fact, the game marked the Bobcats' most lopsided victory over the Lakers, prompting Bryant to use the word "flat" four times while describing how the Lakers played.

It was bad enough that Lakers Coach Phil Jackson went into the quote vault and pulled one out from a legendary football coach.

"There's a statement that Red Auerbach -- not Red Auerbach -- [Vince] Lombardi made one time: 'Fatigue makes cowards of us all,' " Jackson said.

The Lakers played an overtime game Thursday in Miami and didn't arrive at their hotel in Charlotte until almost 4 a.m. Friday, but players acknowledged more than just a lack of energy.

"We have no rhythm, no confidence in what we're doing out there," Gasol said.

Gasol made only five of 14 shots and scored 11 points, his second consecutive clunker after making four of 11 shots and scoring 10 points Thursday in the 114-111 loss to Miami.

He was so askew against Miami that Jackson was asked about him again before the Charlotte game.

"I really don't like to talk about that aspect of a person's game, other than he's been weak and sickly," Jackson said. "I think he has been feeling a little under the weather and it's just kind of taken him down a step."

Gasol has been bothered by a sore throat.

In case the Lakers' startling lack of effort wasn't enough, the night took another turn when Jackson approached a handful of reporters who had been interviewing Gasol after the game.

"You guys done with Pau?" Jackson asked. He then turned to Gasol. "Pau, I want you to meet a friend of mine."

Jackson walked Gasol into an adjacent room and introduced him to Charles Oakley, a fierce power forward in his day and a player Jackson coached on the Chicago Bulls in the 1980s.

Oakley, his hair now flecked with gray, was later asked by a reporter if he gave Gasol some strong advice.

"Always," he said, smiling.

The Lakers are 0-2 on their three-game trip. They haven't lost three consecutive games since acquiring Gasol from Memphis in February 2008.

"It might happen," Jackson said. "We told them on this trip that if they lose the first one, you could steamroll this into a three-loss trip. So they're aware of the fact that they could walk into a barnburner on Sunday and not escape."


Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.

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