NBA: Bobcats beat L.A.
By Mike Cranston
CHARLOTTE ó Needing wins to make up ground in the playoff race, the schedule fell perfectly for the Charlotte Bobcats: The mighty Los Angeles Lakers came to town.
Continuing perhaps the most unlikely dominance of one team over another in the NBA, the Bobcats got 21 points and 13 rebounds from Gerald Wallace and used stifling defense to beat the Lakers 94-84 on Tuesday and move within one game of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Raymond Felton added 16 points, D.J. Augustin scored 14 and Boris Diaw had 12 assists as the Bobcats (34-40) frustrated Kobe Bryant and completed a season sweep of the Western Conference leaders, who have lost six of seven to Charlotte over the past four seasons.
“We match up real well with them,” Wallace explained after the fifth-year Bobcats set a franchise record with their 34th win. “We kind of force Kobe into taking a lot of tough shots and kind of get him out of the way he wants to do things offensively.”
Failing to reach 100 points in consecutive games for the first time since November, the weary Lakers dropped their second straight with one game left tonight in Milwaukee on their seven-game, 13-day road trip.
Bryant scored 25 points but hit just 11 of 28 shots.
With Raja Bell shadowing Bryant, the Bobcats held the Lakers to 39-percent shooting ó and as the game wore on, Bobcats fans drowned out the thousands of Lakers fans who helped produce the largest crowd for a Bobcats game in their four-year-old arena.
“It was like an NCAA tournament game,” Bobcats coach Larry Brown said. “They were cheering for the underdog.”
The lightly regarded Bobcats remain in the playoff mix despite a brutal closing schedule that includes six of eight on the road, starting tonight in Boston. After losses by Chicago and Detroit on Tuesday, the Bobcats are a game behind the eighth-place Bulls and two back of the Pistons.