Richardson, Bobcats bounce Lakers from top spot in WestMar 27, 2008 - 6:18 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Lakers certainly didn't look like the top team in the Western Conference. And now, they no longer are.
Jason Richardson scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Charlotte Bobcats secured a rare road victory with a 108-95 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
Matt Carroll had 18 points and Raymond Felton added 13 and 10 assists for the Bobcats, who won for only the seventh time away from home this season.
"They're the Lakers, you get up for this game," Richardson said. "Staples Center is one of the best places to play the game at, all the movie stars are here, you just want to go out there and have fun."
With the loss, the Lakers (49-23) dropped one game behind the New Orleans Hornets (49-21), who won earlier on Wednesday, for the top spot in the Western Conference.
"It just looked like we were out of character, tremendously out of character, in more ways than one," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Irrational plays, inconsistent at best, but some poor judgments, poor decisions."
The Bobcats seized control of the game as they closed out the first half on a 10-0 run to take a 57-44 lead into the locker rooms.
After taking a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter, Charlotte was able to withstand a late comeback bid by the Lakers, who opened the quarter on a 13-2 spurt as Sasha Vujacic's 3-pointer cut their deficit to 84-81 with 7:43 left to play.
Richardson helped restore order over the next three minutes, scoring consecutive baskets to push his team's advantage to 96-86 as part of a 9-0 run.
"We knew when they made a run that we weren't going to let the lead up," Richardson said. "We just stayed calm, stayed poised, got the ball inside, got to the basket and we maintained the lead."
Kobe Bryant had a team-high 27 points for Los Angeles before being ejected from the game. He was tossed for picking up his second technical with 3:40 remaining for arguing a foul call. He had picked up his first one just minutes earlier.
"There are times when emotions will get the best of you," Lakers guard Derek Fisher said. "Tonight was one of those nights for him."
But it was the Bobcats' defense that caused the most aggravation.
"I don't think anyone can stop (Bryant)," Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace said. "But the one thing we can do, and I think I was able to do tonight, is make his shots tough and aggravate him, frustrate him, make it hard for him, and I think we did a great job of team help defense."
Despite playing its last two games at home, Los Angeles has found itself trying to comeback from some big second-half holes.
On Sunday, the Lakers rallied back from 26 down to tie the score late in the fourth quarter before eventually losing to the Golden State Warriors.
Los Angeles center Pau Gasol was sidelined for the seventh straight game because of a sprained left ankle. Reports said earlier Wednesday that he will miss the team's next two games.
LA LAKERS 95 FINAL
Mar 27 12:59 AM
LA LAKERS 68 END, 3RD QTR
Mar 27 12:24 AM
LA LAKERS 44 HALFTIME
Mar 26 11:38 PM
LA LAKERS 24 END, 1ST QTR
Mar 26 11:05 PM
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