In a season filled with seemingly endless frustration, the Los Angeles Lakers damn near provided another batch tonight. At least they won.
The 1st half was straight from the blueprint of bad basketball that the Lakers have made their home: too many turnovers, not enough energy, and an opposing team making way too many shots. The 2nd half looked to be more of the same, with the Bobcats building an 18 point lead, but finally, finally, the Lakers found some energy, some cohesion, and some defensive success. After giving up 78 points through 2.5 quarters to a team averaging 96 pts/game, the Lakers held Charlotte to just six points the rest of the quarter, and 22 points in the final 18 minutes. The defensive effort proved vital, as the Lakers needed every point (and some luck on a hilariously wild final sequence that saw a missed uncontested layup and a 15 foot shot that landed 20 feet from the basket) to end up victorious by the final score of 101-100.
Leading the way for the Lakers once again was Kobe Bryant. Bean scored 30 points for the 7th straight game (which no one his age has ever done), and added six boards, seven assists and "only" two turnovers. He shot well from the field and scored at an efficient clip, and he drained a few of those ridiculous late game jumpers that we all know so well (he also missed one that we know well, but the Lakers survived it this time). Dwight Howard was big on the defensive side of things at times, but his numbers (16 pts, 18 boards, 4 blocks) look better than they were, and he continued his frustrating tendency to turn off on the defensive side of things. Still, this was one of Dwight's good games.
And the big news, personnel wise, was the return of Pau Gasol. Pau struggled mightily from the field, but his movement was much improved from earlier this season, and he provided the all important patient-zero for contagious passing to infect the rest of the team (in the early first half at least). Gasol didn't play all that well, but he did everything right. Or maybe the opposite, I'm not sure.
Cheering one point wins against (very) bad teams at home has been what Lakers Nation has been reduced to this season, but the big comeback at least showed a team that cares. It ended up being ugly, and it was far more difficult than it should have been, but winning, like passing, can be contagious. The Lakers are a team desperately in need of catching the bug.