LOS ANGELES (AP)—This time, Charlotte needed only one overtime to beat the Los Angeles Lakers.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 32 points, becoming at 28 years and 156 days the youngest player in NBA history to reach 18,000 points. Wilt Chamberlain did so at 28 years and 166 days, followed by Michael Jordan at 28 years and 359 days.
“It’s always special,” Bryant said. “Things like that really don’t sink in until the end of your career.”
Bryant’s wide-open 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left in regulation sent Los Angeles to overtime for the sixth time this season, but the Lakers’ second OT loss to the Bobcats in nearly a month ended their six-game home winning streak.
“My mouth nearly hit the floor. I almost lost the ball because I was so wide open,” Bryant said. “It’s the first time I’ve been that wide open for a big shot like that in a long, long, long time.”
Call it a big oops by Gerald Wallace, who had 18 points for Charlotte.
“We were supposed to switch and I didn’t switch out,” he said. “It left the best player in the league wide open for a 3 and he knocked it down. But we were able to come back in the overtime and take control.”
Lamar Odom had 12 points and seven rebounds in his return to the Lakers from a sprained right knee. Odom, who started, had been out since Dec. 12. Rookie Andrew Bynum had 11 points and a career-high 16 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season.
“I felt a little slow out there,” Odom said. “It will take time to get the explosion back.”
It was another tight game between teams that needed triple overtime to decide their first meeting on Dec. 29. Bryant scored 58 points in the Lakers’ 133-124 defeat at Charlotte. The teams split their meetings last season, with the Bobcats winning at home Feb. 2.
One of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams, the Bobcats came in with a 3-10 record against the West, but they were the aggressors from the start, streaking to a 20-9 lead.
Charlotte outscored the Lakers 11-7 over the final 5:40 of regulation only to watch Bryant tie it at 91.
“We thought there was no way we should lose when we were up three with a couple of seconds to go,” Carroll said. “When Kobe hit that shot, we said, `We came too far to lose this game—and we beat them in overtime before, so why can’t we do it again?”’
The Bobcats dominated the 5-minute overtime, outscoring the Lakers 15-6.
“They played better than we did in overtime,” Bryant said. “We tried to force our way to the basket a little bit and tried to draw some calls. We didn’t get them and they converted at the other end.”
Carroll banked in a 3 for a 96-93 lead before Okafor scored three points in a row.
“Literally a luck shot,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “All the shoulders sagged after that.”
Raymond Felton added two free throws before Carroll made four in a row from the line to finish the game.
“Kobe came down and asked me if I called `bank’ and I said, `Definitely. I had to find a way to get over your long arms,”’ Carroll said. “So I knew it was going in.”
The fourth quarter was back-and-forth. Felton ran off eight points in a row to tie the score at 84.
After Bryant scored, Wallace, falling out of bounds, passed to Okafor, who dunked for another tie at 86.
Maurice Evans, who missed twice inside on the same possession for the Lakers, was hit with a technical for tossing his sweatband on the other end. Carroll made the free throw, then Wallace scored on a fast-break layup for an 89-86 lead with 2:37 to go.
Odom got fouled and made both to draw the Lakers within one. Okafor blocked Bynum, who then blocked Wallace at Charlotte’s end. Bryant lost the ball on Carroll’s steal before Felton’s turnover gave the Lakers the ball after a timeout.
“That was the spark that got us going,” Wallace said about Okafor’s block.
Bryant missed an 18-footer with Carroll in his face. Wallace’s layup made it 91-88 Charlotte with 9 seconds left.
After Bryant’s 3 from the right wing, Adam Morrison missed a jumper, forcing overtime. Morrison finished with 13 points.
The Lakers went ahead in the third quarter, leading by seven on a driving layup by Evans. But the Bobcats came back and went up by three on Morrison’s 13-footer. Then Ronny Turiaf dunked off a fast-break pass from Bryant and let out a roar before hitting the free throw to put Los Angeles ahead 74-72 heading into the fourth.
The Lakers trailed by 11 four times in the first half.
Lakers C Kwame Brown might be out until sometime next week, when the Lakers hit the road for a seven-game trip. He continues rehabbing a severely sprained left ankle that occurred Dec. 31 against Philadelphia. “I’m just trying to get the swelling down,” he said. “I’m kind of nervous it’s a Chris Mihm-type of thing. I definitely need another week or so.” … Lakers F Luke Walton went down in a heap under the basket at 8:31 of the third period with a moderately sprained right ankle. X-rays were negative, but he was on crutches after the game.