|W. Johnson||SF||J. Taylor|
|J. Hill||PF||J. McRoberts|
|Pau Gasol||C||A. Jeffersons|
|J. Meeks||SG||G. Henderson|
|K. Bryant||PG||K. Walker|
Steve BLake: Elbow Out
S. Nash: Back Out
Jordan Farmar: Hamstring Out
M. Kidd-Gilchrist: Hand Out
B. Haywood: Foot Out
Bryant Scores 21 Points, Lakers Top bobcats 88-85
By Steve Reed
December 14, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 21 points and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Charlotte Bobcats 88-85 for their first win since Bryant returned from a torn Achilles tendon four games ago.
Bryant was 8 of 15 from the field and hit two free throws with 37 seconds left in the game to put the Lakers ahead for good.
Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill had 15 points apiece for the Lakers and Nick Young had 13 points off the bench.
Kemba Walker had 24 points and eight assists for the slumping Bobcats, who have lost three straight games and five of their last seven.
The Lakers trailed most of the game, but cut the lead to 85-84 after Bryant drove the lane and scored a left-handed layup with 1:22 remaining.
Al Jefferson and Walker would both miss on the other end and Bryant went to work looking to take the lead. He drew a foul on a jump shot with 37 seconds left and hit both free throws with some of the crowd chanting "M-V-P" while others booed.
Gerald Henderson missed a jumper for Charlotte, but Jefferson corralled the rebound and the Bobcats took a timeout to set up the last shot.
Jefferson backed down Pau Gasol but couldn't convert a baby hook and the Gasol grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Gasol hit both free throws to push the lead to three with 6.2 seconds left. Ben Gordon's 3-pointer fell short as time expired.
Bryant came in averaging 11 points in his first three games. He eclipsed that by halftime.
Bryant had 13 points, four assists and three rebounds in the first half as the Lakers staked to a 44-43 lead despite being outscored 28-12 in the paint. Bryant looked good from the start, scoring eight points in the first nine minutes, doing most of his damage with posting up his defender.
Bryant showed his touch when he banked in a 15-footer over Gerald Henderson and his range when he stepped out to knock down a 3-pointer from 26 feet.
But there were some struggles as well. Bryant air-balled a 3-pointer and threw a poor pass across court that was intercepted and led to a Bobcats layup.
"The thing that's always made him different is his IQ," said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, who worked alongside Bryant last year as an assistant coach with the Lakers. "He's playing and he's a step ahead of everybody. Although he's blessed with athleticism, his greatness has always been the mental part. People don't see how he talks to his teammates about winning and playing better. You can even see it now. When I watch him play, that's what I see."
The highlight of the game came in the third quarter when Josh McRoberts cut down the lane, took a pass from Walker and skied over Pau Gasol for a one-handed slam dunk that brought the crowd to its feet.
NOTES:Welterweight boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. took in game from courtside. ... Henderson has scored in double figures in 22 games this season, including 15 straight. ... The Lakers have won five straight against the Bobcats.
Copyright 2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
All-Time Series Notes: The Lakers won the 2012-13 season series with Charlotte 2-0, after winning their lone meeting with the Bobcats in 2011-12 … The two teams have met 17 times in all, with the Lakers leading the all-time series 9-8 ... At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 6-3 all-time against the Bobcats while in Charlotte, Los Angeles has gone 3-5 overall ... In their lone meeting of the 2011-12 season, the Lakers held Charlotte to a series-low 73 points and won by a series-high 33-point margin in a 106-73 victory 1/31/12 at STAPLES Center ... In their first meeting of the 2009-10 season at STAPLES Center, the Lakers defeated the Bobcats 99-97, snapping a 3-game home and overall losing streak to Charlotte ... On 3/5/10, the Lakers scored a series low 83 points and lost by a then series worst 15 points and followed that up the next season with a series worst 20-point defeat (89-109) 2/14/11 at Charlotte ...
Connections: Bobcats G Ramon Sessions played in 23 regular season games for the Lakers in 2012, averaging 12.7 points and 6.2 assists ... Bobcats F Josh McRoberts played in 50 games for the Lakers in the 2011-12 season, averaging 2.8 points 3.4 rebounds ... Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford served as a Lakers assistant coach last season … Bobcats F Brendan Haywood and Lakers G Nick Young played together with the Washington Wizards in 2007-08, ‘08-09 and part of ‘09-10 ... Bobcats F Al Jefferson and Lakers player development coach Mark Madsen played together with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2007-08 and 2008-09 … Bobcats G Jannero Pargo played for the Lakers in 2002-03 and a portion of the 2003-04 season.