L.A. Lakers 101, Charlotte 90
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 30 (Ticker) --
The Los Angeles Lakers got back on
track by taking advantage of a team that never seems to get it
in gear away from home.
continued his solid play of late with 20 points
and Lamar Odom
had 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as
the Lakers snapped a three-game slide with a 101-90 triumph
over the reeling Charlotte Bobcats.
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added 20 points and Chris Mihm
had 16 - all in the
first half - and 12 rebounds for the Lakers (23-19), who snapped
their longest losing streak of the season. Los Angeles also
evened its record at 4-4 since star Kobe Bryant
right ankle on January 13.
The Lakers seized a 50-41 halftime lead behind Mihm's productive
start and turned the game into a rout early in the third
quarter. The Bobcats did not quit and got within 96-90
following a 3-pointer by Gerald Wallace
with 58 seconds to go.
Any hopes Charlotte had of an upset vanished when Butler hit a
free throw with 46 seconds left. Atkins then sealed the game
with two shots from the line 10 seconds later.
"It's good to get on the winning track and go from here," said
Mihm, who battled foul trouble. "Guys haven't been sleeping too
well the past week, losing three is tough."
"Tonight, the thought pattern was simple: just to win, that's
what we needed to do," Odom said. "We were on a three-game slide
and desperately needed to get this game. This was the longest
losing streak of the year, you want to stay away from there. You
guys ever hear of the snowball effect?"
Atkins has at least 20 points in four of his last six contests.
"We needed a win, man," Atkins said. "It was either win or take
another loss. We did a good job of coming out with a lot of
energy against a team that isn't really playing for anything
now, and we were able to come up with a win."
Lakers assistant Frank Hamblen filled in for coach Rudy Tomjanovich
, who missed the game with a stomach ailment.
Hamblen, who has five championship rings as part of Phil
Jackson's staffs in Chicago and Los Angeles, faced little
pressure against the expansion club.
"Frank did a great job tonight and guys responded well," Mihm
said. "We did a good job from start to finish."
While Tomjanovich was absent, Bryant did join his teammates on
the bench for the first time since he went down.
"It gives us a psychological lift," Odom said. "He's our leader,
he's our best player. He just has that aura about him, just
having him on the bench helps."
led Charlotte (9-32) with 15 points and former
Laker Kareem Rush
chipped in 13. But Rush was 5-of-16 from the
field and rookie Emeka Okafor
The loss was the Bobcats' ninth straight on the road and dropped
their overall mark away from the Charlotte Coliseum to 1-19.
"The Lakers needed a win," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff
said. "We basically told our guys, we had to somehow surmount
the adrenaline in the early part of the game because they needed
a win in that situation."
Atkins opened the second half with a 3-pointer and Jumaine Jones
followed with a shot of his own from beyond the arc, giving the
Lakers a 56-41 lead. A jumper by Odom 2:06 into the quarter
made it a 17-point cushion.
Charlotte got back within 63-56 with 4 1/2 minutes left in the
third quarter but again the Lakers responded, closing the period
with a 14-6 burst.
Trailing by 14 entering the final quarter, Charlotte faced its
biggest deficit of the game, 84-66, with just under 10 minutes
left. But the Bobcats rallied as Steve Smith
3-pointer and sank two free throws around a driving layup by
teammate Jason Hart
. Wallace had a dunk with 6:37 remaining to
slice the deficit to 84-75.
The Lakers stemmed the tide but Brezec had a tip with 91 seconds
left and Wallace buried a jumper 34 seconds later to get the
Bobcats within six. Butler made his free throw but Rush missed
a jumper and Odom came down with the rebound to seal the