Bobcats End 13-game Slide by Topping Lakers
Charlotte 112, L.A. Lakers 102
CHARLOTTE, N.C., Feb. 3 (Ticker) -- Jumaine Jones and the Charlotte Bobcats got off to a hot start, leading to a finish nearly a month in the making.
Jones scored 14 of his career-high 31 points in the opening quarter as the Bobcats ended their franchise-record 13-game losing streak with a 112-102 triumph over the suddenly struggling Los Angeles Lakers.
"I was able to get open looks tonight and able to knock them down," he said. "I have been struggling with my shot lately, and it just so happens that you're going to get that extra energy boost playing against the team that traded you. I was anxious to get out and play."
Several injuries, including ones to starters Emeka Okafor and Gerald Wallace, led to Charlotte's slide, which began January 11. It was the longest skid in the league this season.
"This is a big relief," Charlotte forward Melvin Ely said. "Seeing what the Lakers have done and seeing how shorthanded we are, the shots finally fell for us. The team came together and never folded in. We kept on fighting and it finally paid off for us. It feels good."
"Teams that have lost a lot of games are dangerous," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "We knew that coming in, but we have no excuses. They outplayed us tonight, they outhustled us."
The Bobcats looked nothing like a slumping team in the first quarter as they scored the first seven points and held a 40-25 advantage at the end of the session. Primoz Brezec added 10 of his 22 points in the quarter.
"I thought it was good that we got out of the gate tonight and were able to maintain," said Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff, whose team led wire to wire for the first time in franchise history.
Charlotte made 13-of-21 shots in the opening session and tied a franchise mark for points in any quarter.
"They hit every shot there in the first quarter," Jackson said. "They were going inside and outside. When you get that many points in a quarter, it really does take a lot of effort to get back in the game."
The Bobcats never trailed but did see their lead shaved to 99-96 on a three-point play by Chris Mihm, who scored 15 points, with 2:25 remaining.
After rookie Raymond Felton responded with a 3-pointer, Los Angeles' Luke Walton cut the deficit to 102-98 with two free throws. But Brezec drilled a jumper from the corner and Felton sank two from the line to put away the game.
"I think we were able to finish the game," Jones said. "Our guards did a good job handling the pressure that the Lakers were putting on us. We didn't turn the ball over later. We got good shots and guys made big shots late in the game."
Kobe Bryant scored 15 of his 35 points in the third quarter but combined with backcourt mate Smush Parker, who added 19, for 15 of the Lakers' 23 turnovers.
"The shots didn't fall to us tonight," said Bryant, who was just 2-of-7 from behind the arc. "It's tough. I expect those shots to go down, and they didn't tonight. Hopefully, they'll fall for us the next night. You have to be ready and step in."
"We just beat ourselves tonight with the turnovers," Parker said. "Any loss is frustrating, especially when you lose to a team you are supposed to beat."