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Bryant leads Lakers over Bobcats 100-93
Saturday - 2/9/2013, 11:14pm EST
AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Kobe Bryant barely shot the ball in the first half Friday night against the Charlotte Bobcats.
Almost no one else shot for the Los Angeles Lakers in the final seven minutes when the game was on the line.
Bryant shrugged off a scoreless first half -- he attempted only two shots -- to finish with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds as the Lakers defeated the Bobcats 100-93.
The formula -- where Bryant facilitates early and scores late -- is one that forward Antawn Jamison anticipates fans will see more of from the Lakers down the stretch this season.
"I think in the future that is how you're going to see us play with Kobe getting guys involved early on, seeing how it goes, and then as the game goes into the fourth quarter he begins to take over a little bit," Jamison said.
Bryant doesn't mind.
What he does mind is the way the Lakers played against the Bobcats, the NBA's worst team.
Bryant said he was "irritated" at the way the Lakers passed up good shots, committed turnovers and had to overcome a 20-point second half deficit to beat a team that's only won 11 games all season.
"We have to play the right way," Bryant said. "When we have shots available, we take them. If we don't, move the ball on. It can't be about individual touches. It can't be about that."
As for not shooting in the first half, Bryant said: "If we lose the game, everybody points the finger at me for not shooting the ball. And that's fine. As long as I'm confident that I make the right play to help as a team, that's the most important thing. We all need to follow that example and just play for each other."
The Lakers are 4-2 on their current seven-game road trip which wraps up Sunday in Miami.
At 24-27, they could use a win against the defending champions, but Jamison said the Lakers have to play better if they hope to be a playoff team.
"We can't play like we did early in the game tonight, which was not playing with energy, the turnovers, and giving our opponents easy opportunities in transition," Jamison said.
Still, the Lakers won.
Bryant didn't come out for warmups to start the second half. But he was there to provide the spark the lackluster Lakers needed in the third quarter. He scored 14 of his points in the final period, including a driving layup with 40 seconds left to push the lead to five and help seal the win.
"In the second half, I got in position where I could catch it and turn and shoot it a little bit," Bryant said. "They were reluctant to double team because we started knocking down some shots. I think that makes the game a lot easier."
Steve Nash and Earl Clark each had 17 points and Dwight Howard had 12 points, all in the first half, and 11 rebounds for the Lakers (24-27).
Howard played his second straight game despite nursing an injured right shoulder.
"Continuity," Howard said when asked of the Lakers offensive woes. "We have to do a better job of spreading everything out and moving and getting everybody involved. When we do that, we are pretty good."
Byron Mullens and Gerald Henderson each had 20 points for the Bobcats, who have lost six straight.
Charlotte led 71-51 in the third quarter, but the Lakers stormed back behind a 9-0 run. They cut the lead to one on a driving layup by Bryant with 6:06 left in the game and Jamison gave the Lakers their first lead with 4:46 remaining on a left-handed finger roll in the lane.
The Lakers took the lead for good at 92-91 when Jodie Meeks made a 3-pointer with 3:02 left in the game.
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni wasn't pleased with the overall effort, but liked that his team bounced back after a 116-95 loss to the Boston Celtics the night before.
"We've just got to be able to put our earplugs in, or mufflers on, or blinders on," D'Antoni said. "It's like the Kentucky Derby with horses, just get those blinders on and just get out there and run.
"We have so much stuff going on out here that every little thing is blown to bits and whether it is right or wrong or blown out of proportion it is. But, it affects us. It is a distraction. It saps energy. We've got to be able to just close that out somehow."