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LAKERS LOSE TO BOBCATS AGAIN CHARLOTTE GETS OT VICTORY TO STUN L.A. CHA. 106, LAKERS 97.

Byline: ROSS SILER Staff Writer

If the Lakers could take every bad component from their season - the inexplicable losses to sub-.500 teams, the run of injuries that just wont end - then Friday night's game against the Charlotte Bobcats was it.

The Lakers welcomed back Lamar Odom, who missed 21 games with a sprained knee ligament, and then watched Luke Walton leave with a moderately sprained right ankle early in the third quarter.

Then they took a game seemingly in control against the Bobcats and lost it 106-97 in overtime, even with Kobe Bryant connecting on a tying 3- pointer with 1.6 seconds left in regulation.

In the end, the Lakers were left with their second loss this season to the Bobcats, the third-year franchise with the 59-147 all-time record. Charlotte has now beaten the Lakers three of the four times they played the past two seasons.

The Lakers went the length of the court in the last 9.6 seconds to force overtime. Matt Carroll picked up Bryant, then thought Gerald Wallace was going to switch as Bryant headed to the right side.

Out of the confusion, the Bobcats left Bryant uncovered and he buried a 3-pointer without even a hand in his face to tie the score at 91-91 with 1.6 seconds left. Bryant scored 13 points and played the entire fourth quarter.

But the Lakers were unable to sustain the momentum in overtime, falling behind 96-91 with 2:51 left after a disappointing stretch of plays.

Odom was called for an offensive foul, Smush Parker missed a point-blank shot and Odom had a jumper bounce in-and-out. Carroll banked in a 3-pointer that forced the Lakers to call timeout down five points.

Bryant tried to create coming out of the timeout but couldn't hold onto the ball. The Bobcats outscored the Lakers 15-6 in overtime.

Bryant played 50 minutes, finished with 32 points and became the youngest player to score 18,000 in his career.

Odom played 43 minutes and totaled 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists before fouling out in overtime. Odom made the highlight play of the second half, grabbing and offensive rebound and whipping a behind-the-back pass to Andrew Bynum for a dunk.

But Odom made just 3 of 10 shots on a night the Lakers shot 42 percent as a team. Bynum had 11 points and 16 rebounds while Carroll led the Bobcats with 24 points. Emeka Okafor finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds for Charlotte.

Walton was injured with 8:31 left in the third quarter as he went up to contest Adam Morrison's drive to the basket. Walton came down on Okafor's foot in the lane and was in immediate pain.

He was helped to the locker room by trainer Gary Vitti and forward Ronny Turiaf. Walton, who has battled ankle injuries throughout his college and pro career, did not return to the bench.

Walton suffered a moderate sprain; X-rays were negative. His availability for Sunday's game against San Antonio and the Lakers' upcoming eight-game road trip was not immediately known.

Bryant rested for just 5.2 seconds at the end of the third quarter, then came back for the start of the fourth. The Bobcats stayed in the game and tied the score 84-84 with 5:39 to go on a Raymond Felton jumper and layup.

Maurice Evans missed three shots around the basket, then was called for a technical by referee Tony Brown with 3:12 left. Carroll sank the free throw and the Bobcats went ahead 89-86 by running out off a Bryant miss for a Wallace basket.

The Lakers gave up an 11-1 run to the Bobcats just when it looked like they had the game in control in the third quarter. But they went into the fourth leading 74-72 as Turiaf tag-teamed with Evans on a block of Adam Morrison at one end.

After losing 133-124 to Charlotte in triple overtime on Dec. 29, the Lakers had a message in addition to a scouting report on their locker room board beforehand. It read simply ``Kick they ass'' with three exclamation points.

But the Lakers came out flat and the Bobcats jumped out to an early 11-2 lead. The Lakers tried to establish Bynum in the opening minutes but Bynum converted just 1 of 4 shots.

Charlotte led by as many as 11 points in the first quarter.

ross.siler@dailynews.com

(818) 713-3607

Noah Graham/Getty Images

CAPTION(S):

2 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) The Lakers' Kobe Bryant shoots over Charlotte's Adam Morrison in Friday's game.

Noah Graham/Getty Images

(2) Charlotte's Sean May finishes a dunk as the Lakers' Jordan Farmar, Maurice Evans and Brian Cook watch on Friday.

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 27, 2007
Words:792
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