The Lakers lost another player, and then a game, ending their brief stay atop the other 29 teams in the league.
Lamar Odom went down with a hyper-extended right knee Tuesday against New Orleans, joining teammates Jordan Farmar and Luke Walton on the injured list.
The Lakers' six-game winning streak came crashing down as well, amid a flurry of Chris Paul and a dash of David West.
Paul had 32 points and 15 assists, and West had 40 points and 11 rebounds as the Hornets won, 116-105, Tuesday night at Staples Center.
The loss ended the Lakers' two-day run with the league's best record. They now share the top spot with Cleveland (27-6).
Odom sustained his knee injury after banging into Paul while the Hornets guard attempted a driving layup with 3 minutes 3 seconds left in the second quarter. Odom, who was called for a foul on the play, will undergo an MRI exam today and is questionable for tonight's game against Golden State.
"Not happy about that," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said. "We'll have to have some other guys help us."
Farmar is out at least another six weeks after undergoing knee surgery, and Walton is out at least two weeks because of a sore right foot. Odom's status will be updated by the team after his medical exam in Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant scored 39 points, but it didn't stop Lakers fans from trickling out quietly with 2:44 to play and the home team trailing, 111-102.
The Lakers had beaten New Orleans (21-10) twice this season, both times on the road, but found no answers at home for Paul and West.
Pau Gasol was scoreless in the first half and finished with only 10 points in 42 minutes.
"Nothing went down for him," Jackson said. "He just couldn't get going."
It seemed like it would be Bryant's night after he hit an off-balance 31-footer as time expired in the second quarter. He followed it up with a 20-point third quarter, making all four of his three-point attempts as the Lakers took a 92-89 lead into the fourth.
But Bryant scored only two points the rest of the way, making one of six shots in the fourth quarter, which the Hornets dominated by a 27-13 margin.
"Our character has been tested the last two times we played them," said Hornets Coach Byron Scott, cognizant that the Lakers led by 21 points in each of the games in New Orleans. "I thought over there they probably felt that we couldn't beat them, and I thought we had to try to prove a point to not only them but to ourselves."
The Lakers had stayed in the game by making an impressive 13 of 23 three-point attempts through three quarters. They made only three of 11 in the fourth quarter, however.
There were other places to spread the blame.
Vladimir Radmanovic started for the first time in four weeks, but had only three points in 24 minutes. He made one of seven shots.
Andrew Bynum had a disjointed game, making only two of seven shots and finishing with seven points.
Derek Fisher also had trouble with his shot, making only six of 18 on the night.
Lakers fans with long memories booed when James Posey checked into the game in the first quarter. (Posey left the Boston Celtics for New Orleans as a free agent during the off-season.)
It was a stark contrast to the quiet that enveloped the arena when the game ended.
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The perils of guarding Paul
The Lakers, like the rest of the league, have had a difficult time stopping New Orleans' Chris Paul, right. A look at how the point guard has fared against the Lakers:
*--* Season G Min Reb Ast TO Stl PPG 2008-09 3 44:06 5.0 12.7 1.7 3.7 26.3 2007-08 4 38:53 4.0 15.0 2.0 3.0 23.3 2006-07 2 43:12 6.0 11.5 2.0 3.5 27.0 2005-06 4 34:00 3.5 9.0 3.0 1.8 16.3 *--*
AT GOLDEN STATE
On the air: TV: Channel 9; Radio: 570, 1330.
Where: Staples Center.
Records: Lakers 27-6, Warriors 10-26.
Record vs. Warriors: 1-0.
Update: Kobe Bryant had 31 points and the Lakers had little trouble in a 130-113 victory over Golden State on Dec. 28. Warriors forward Corey Maggette had 23 points Monday against Utah, his first game after missing 15 games because of a hamstring injury.
-- Mike Bresnahan