LOS ANGELES You know who doesn't particularly care why Al Jefferson wasn't named an All-Star Thursday?
Al Jefferson. He said as much after matching his career-high of 40 points in the Charlotte Bobcats' 110-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center.
"I've been disappointed by All-Star Games for years. I've stopped listening to the hype," said Jefferson. "I know what I can do and my goal is to get Charlotte to one of those elite teams in the East. Into the playoffs.
"I feel like if I do that, all that other stuff will come right into place."
Jefferson has been spectacular of late by any standard. In addition to his 40 points (off 18-of-32 shooting), he grabbed 18 rebounds.
He has now gone three straight games totaling 30 or more points and 10 or more rebounds. The only other NBA player to do that this season is Oklahoma City Thunder superstar Kevin Durant.
The Bobcats are 21-27, already matching their win total from last season. They're 2-0 on this West Coast trip, after winning at Denver Wednesday. They're 4-2 without point guard Kemba Walker, who felt too much pain in his sprained left ankle at shootaround Thursday to dress out for this game.
"I just hope this game gives us the confidence we can keep winning on the road," said Jefferson, who has now scored 20 or more points in 11 straight games.
If confidence is rising, Jefferson is the source.
"I have those moments" when he seems unguardable, Jefferson said. "They kept running plays for me and I kept getting to my shot. In the first quarter they weren't going down for me. But I stayed with it and got hot."
The Lakers (16-31) are a terrible defensive team right now. They gave up 52 percent shooting Friday to a large degree because they never kept Jefferson from catching the ball where he most wanted it.
"It sounds simple but we're getting the ball to him lower below the free-throw line," said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford. "He's getting deep (in the post), then we score some cutting baskets, so he's open more. And we're getting into our sets quicker. He has more time to hit somebody else or go (to the rim) himself."
"There are not that many guys who can both score the way he does and deliver passes. There are a lot of ways to score off him and he's a willing passer."
Jefferson wasn't always that way. He didn't have the desire or acumen to pass out of double-teams. That changed in Salt Lake City, where Jazz coaches convinced him that would help both his team and himself.
"I learned in Utah how to move the ball and make my teammates better," said Jefferson, who had four assists Friday. "If we're moving the ball and my teammates are open, that's just going to make me better. Each time they double-teamed me, I felt like I got teammates wide-open shots."
Jefferson was the obvious star Friday, but Clifford was quite pleased with how shooting guard Gerald Henderson (20 points on 9-of-19 shooting) played at both ends.
The Bobcats play the Suns in Phoenix Saturday. Clifford said it's highly unlikely Walker would play that game, but Tuesday in Golden State might be a good possibility.
"He couldn't move," Clifford said of Walker's ankle pain. "He jumped out right away in shootaround."
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