After tonight's home game against the Charlotte Bobcats, the Lakers will embark on a six-game road trip that will finish up with stops in Boston and Cleveland. Those games against the East-leading Celtics and Cavs are a long ways away though, and L.A. would be wise not to look past the Bobcats this evening.
Phil Jackson, as you might imagine, is already on the case.
Jackson is aware of the unusual fact that the Lakers have lost four of their last five games to Charlotte, and with the team being able to practice Monday, he was able to focus on that fact, while letting his team know where the strength of the Bobcats team lies: it's in their defense.
"We think what they show best is that they are tenacious defenders," Jackson said Monday after practice. "You've got to work to get the kind of shots you want."
"They've been very good defensively," Jackson said. "They keep the game in order and try and keep the scores low. They've done a good job of that."
The Bobcats have been good at getting teams to play at their pace, especially lately: they're 5-2 over their last seven games, with quality wins over the Blazers, Pistons, and Suns in that stretch. They even beat the Celtics a few weeks back.
Still, even with Charlotte playing better recently, and the fact that the Lakers have historically struggled against them, it's tough to see the Bobcats coming into Staples and getting a win right now. Let's not understate the Lakers' dominance, or overdramatize the Bobcats' success. L.A. ranks first in the league at offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions); Charlotte ranks 28th -- out of 30 teams. And while the Bobcats' defense is more than respectable at seventh in the league, the Lakers are even better: they rank fourth.