CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson was so upset he spoke to reporters for 5 seconds and then walked away. Kobe Bryant sneaked out of the locker room before addressing the press at all.
A once promising road trip has quickly turned sour for the two-time defending champions, although they probably should have seen their most lopsided loss of the season coming.
The Charlotte Bobcats somehow own them.
Gerald Wallace had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Gerald Henderson added 18 points and helped slow Bryant, and the Bobcats cruised to a 109-89 victory on Monday night to extend one of the more unusual one-sided matchups in the NBA.
The Bobcats have won eight of the past 10 meetings. The Lakers, 5-8 all-time against the NBA’s newest team, hold a losing record against only one other club – the Boston Celtics.
This latest loss, full of missed shots and poor defense and coming on the heels of an ugly defeat in Orlando, left Jackson steamed.
“I’m embarrassed about what we did and that’s it,” Jackson said as he began to stroll away. “Thank you.”
The Lakers then continued to keep the locker room closed to reporters, allowing Bryant to slip out and head to the bus after he scored 20 points. But Bryant missed 11 of his first 16 shots, got to the foul line only four times and committed five fouls as he played despite missing shootaround with an illness.
The weary Lakers, who had started this extended trip 4-0, will close it out Wednesday at Cleveland.
“Everything we do is obviously going to be compared to what we’ve done the last two seasons,” guard Derek Fisher said. “But this is an entirely different team. Half of our roster is new, so there are still things we’re learning about ourselves.”
So are the Bobcats, who completed a bizarre eight-day stretch in which they also beat Eastern Conference heavyweights Boston and Atlanta and lost to unheralded Indiana and New Jersey as they try to secure the final playoff spot in the East.
But the Bobcats always seem to beat the Lakers.
“I think even though they’re bigger than us, we’re quicker and more athletic than them,” Wallace said. “We get up and run up and down the floor. We’re able to control their bigs and control Kobe for the most parts of the game. I think that’s what helps us out a lot in this matchup.”
This one wasn’t even close — and got ugly in the fourth quarter.
Jackson had used all but one of his full timeouts before Wallace’s 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer put Charlotte ahead 78-60.
Bryant then picked up two quick fouls, giving him five and helping the Bobcats reach the penalty with 10:51 left. It appeared Jackson tried to teach his starters a lesson, keeping them in the game until midway through the period as Charlotte’s lead ballooned with reserves Henderson and Nazr Mohammed (16 points) leading the charge.
“Pretty upset about what happened out there,” said Pau Gasol, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
History should have predicted this one.
After losing the first three meetings with the Lakers after entering the league in 2004, the Bobcats have lost to the Lakers only twice. It doesn’t seem to matter Charlotte has had four coaches during that stretch and overhauled its roster several times.
“This is probably the biggest, monumental win for the Bobcats and probably the biggest loss for them,” Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. “It was huge.”
Bryant missed nine of 13 shots, including two airballs, while he was often harassed by Henderson in a miserable first half. The Lakers committed 10 turnovers, missed six of seven 3-pointers and trailed by as many as 11 points.
The Bobcats took control in the third quarter and shot 51 percent for the game despite their own concerns going in.
D.J. Augustin had seven points and nine assists despite missing shootaround with a sprained left wrist. Silas said forward Boris Diaw wouldn’t start after he overslept and missed shootaround, but he changed his mind and Diaw had 16 points.
It marked another loss for Jackson against the Michael Jordan-owned Bobcats. Jordan, who won six titles as a player under Jackson in Chicago, didn’t attend the game.
“I wish I knew clearly why we lost the game the way we did,” Gasol said. “Everything that could have gone wrong, pretty much we did wrong.”
Notes: The Lakers’ previous worst losses this season were 19-point defeats to Memphis and Milwaukee. … Jackson, in his final season with the Lakers, indicated he wouldn’t be interested in a job working for Jordan or any other team. Asked about Jordan’s challenges as an owner, Jackson said: “This franchise, financially, has to get grounded and build an audience and become a stable thing in this community.” … Fisher extended the NBA’s longest active consecutive games played streak to 469. Diaw extended the third-longest to 322.