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Preview: Lakers vs. Bobcats

December 18, 2012|By Eric Pincus
  • Ben Gordon, right, scored 19 points off the bench for Charlotte on Saturday.
Ben Gordon, right, scored 19 points off the bench for Charlotte on Saturday. (Nick Wass / Associated Press )

The Lakers will host the Charlotte Bobcats Tuesday night at Staples Center. Finally, after an eight-game layoff, Pau Gasol will return to the lineup. Steve Nash may be back soon as well but not against the Bobcats.

Charlotte is the rare team that has a winning record against the Lakers. The Bobcats went on a (relative) tear to start the year, winning seven of their first 12 games. Last year the franchise won only seven games over the shortened 66-game schedule.

Charlotte has fallen off the map, losing 11 in a row to drop to 7-16. The Lakers, after a four-game losing streak, have won two in a row.

The return of Gasol should give the Lakers a boost as they look to recover from their 11-14 start.

Key Matchup

Ben Gordon is a bench player whose minutes have dipped a bit, but he is exactly the kind of veteran who lights up the Lakers whenever they play the Bobcats.

At 6 feet 3, he has no business trying to guard Kobe Bryant, but Gordon has had big games this season, including a 34-point night against the New Orleans Hornets.

Of course, the Bobcats will have to contend with Bryant, probably on a cross-match with a small forward such as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

X-factor

Former Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions is the Bobcats' second-leading scorer and playmaker behind Kemba Walker. Sessions was a big part of the team's hot start. He is averaging 14.4 points and 4.2 assists a game.

The Lakers might need a strong night defensive from reserve point guard Darius Morris, trying to keep up with both Walker and Sessions.

Morris is coming off his career high of 15 points, all scored in the first half against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Outlook

The Lakers should beat the Bobcats. It would be a significant step backward to get Gasol back and lose to a team that has lost 11 consecutive games.

ALSO:

Pau Gasol to return tonight after eight-game layoff

Pau Gasol's return will help, but to what extent?

Lakers' video wishes fans a happy holidays

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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