In an epic battle for NBA supremacy, the Lakers watched a layup roll around and impossibly off the rim with 5 seconds left to secure their win over the Charlotte Bobcats. Gerald Henderson followed up the play after Dwight Howard came over to help on Kemba Walker’s baseline drive, and Henderson’s gliding left handed follow somehow rolled out. That along with the unsecured rebound(s) finally ran out the clock in a spectacularly mediocre win by the Lakers. After the clock ran out, Stu Lance on TWC blurted out, mystified, “How can Henderson miss that layup?” He shouldn’t have, he could have, he did, and the Lakers won their 3rd game in a row, while the Bobcats lost their 12th in a row.
The Lakers now have won back to back to back r̶i̶n̶g̶s̶ wins.
The game was a battle of clutch shots, epic bricks and airballs, and double digit leads. The Lakers were up 11 in the first with Pau Gasol coming back after missing time with knee tendonitis. Both Pau and Dwight Howard dominated the paint on both ends of the floor, combining for some effective interior passing, and 6 blocks early. Then the Bobcats went on a big run to go up by as many as 18. Down 18 against Charlotte at home, not even Brian Urlacher was surprised the boos poured out from the crowd much faster than the Laker girls could throw T-shirts into it.
After the game to TWC reporter Mike Trudell, Kobe said they “could have folded up the tent, but we didn’t.” To the Lakers credit, they didn’t. With 5:30 to go in the game, Kobe came out of the timeout and drilled a 3 in the corner with 2.2 seconds on the shot clock. That put the Lakers finally in the driver’s seat. For as much as he can hurt the flow of the offense, its for the clutch, bail-out plays that 31 NBA teams are jealous that Kobe is not a ______.
Dwight tried to give the game away, and facilitated as tense and helpless a finish as the Lakers could organize. He goaltended a Ramon Sessions attempt at a 3point play after being fouled, spinning on his way to the basket. Up 1, Kobe’s shot with 22 seconds to go didn’t fall, and the terrifically unnecessary finish transpired.
He wasn’t the best player on the floor, but the Lakers got a good look at the player they had down the stretch last season, and hoped to look at this season. Ramon Sessions looked much more comfortable on this bad team he opted out to sign with in free agency, without having to defer to Kobe. Sessions scored 20 points on 7-13 shooting, including 2-3 from deep. He let the offense come to him, but was also aggressive off the bounce. With both Steve’s out both Mitch Kupchak and Mike Brown would have been glad to have Sessions early this year.
If the Lakers had won similarly close and unimpressive games this year, this would be an example of Lakers resolve and ability to win close games while playing poorly. They’re ecstatic they got the win, but the win is still another glaring example of a mediocre team in December.