Kemba Walker drives to the basket against Kobe Bryant during the first half… (Jeff Siner / McClatchy-Tribune )
Lakers 100 - Bobcats 93 (Final)
The Lakers overcame a 20-point deficit to the Charlotte Bobcats to win 100-93. In other words, it was business as usually against one of the toughest teams in the NBA ... relatively speaking.
Regardless of how awful the Bobcats are in the standings (and make no mistake, they are the worst team in the league), they always seem to give the Lakers as hard a time as any team in the league. With the victory, the Lakers improve to 9-8 head-to-head all time against the Bobcats.
Kobe Bryant scored 20 points, all in the second half, along with eight assists. Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison hit important shots in the final five minutes as the Lakers improved to 24-27 on the season.
The Bobcats had pulled ahead 71-51 with 5:26 left in the third quarter. From that point on, the Lakers out-scored Charlotte 49-22.
Seven Lakers scored at least nine points with 17 apiece from Earl Clark and Steve Nash, 14 from Meeks, 12 from Dwight Howard, 11 from Metta World Peace and nine from Jamison.
Playing on the second night of a back-to-back, Coach Mike D'Antoni used just eight players. Steve Blake went scoreless in 17 1/2 minutes but was part of the early fourth-quarter unit that helped get the Lakers back into the game.
Byron Mullens and Gerald Henderson led the Bobcats with 20 each. Kemba Walker had 18 and former Lakers guard Ramon Sessions had 12.
The Lakers shot 45% from the field for the game, 30.8% from three-point range and 80% from the line (20-25). Howard hit 4-6 from the stripe, pulled down 11 boards and blocked three shots.
After 11 first-half turnovers, the Lakers finished with just 13 for the game.
The Bobcats shot 42.7% from the field, finishing with 30 assists on 38 made-field goals. With the loss, the Charlotte Bobcats drop to 11-38 on the year.
The Lakers are trying to catch both the Houston Rockets and Portland Trail Blazers for the eighth playoffs spot in the Western Conference. The Rockets host the Blazers on Friday night. With the victory, the Lakers will gain a full game on at least one if their targets.
Bobcats 78 - Lakers 69 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers somehow made up ground in the third quarter against the Bobcats but it wasn't pretty.
After falling behind by 20 points with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter, Earl Clark and Steve Nash brought the Lakers back to within single digits heading into the fourth.
Clark had 17 points through three quarters to lead the Lakers. Nash scored 14. Kobe Bryant scored his first points of the game with 8:47 left in the third -- finishing with six.
The Bobcats were led by Byron Mullens with 20 points while shooting 45.6% from the field as a team. The Lakers shot 41.0% but didn't turn the ball over in the third.
Bobcats 53 - Lakers 41 (halftime)
Kobe Bryant didn't score in the first half against the Bobcats. Charlotte sent regular double-teams his way but Bryant wasn't able to capitalize with more than just two assists.
The Lakers struggled to hit shots, shooting 39.5% from the field while turning the ball over 11 times (four in the second quarter).
Dwight Howard led the Lakers with 12 points and eight rebounds. Steve Nash had 10 points but also four turnovers.
The Bobcats shot 44% from the field with just three turnovers. Byron Mullens still led all scorers with 14. Gerald Henderson contributed 11.
The Lakers had narrowed the gap to just five after a pair of completed three-point plays from Howard but the Bobcats stretched the lead back to 13 before ending the period up 53-41.
Bobcats 30 - Lakers 20 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers struggled in the first quarter against the Charlotte Bobcats, scoring 20 points on 38.1% shooting with seven turnovers.
Charlotte had little trouble scoring, getting into transition with six steals while shooting 48.1% from the field. The Bobcats also got to the line seven times (hitting four) while the Lakers got just one attempt.
Byron Mullens led all scorers with nine points.The Bobcats also got eight from Kemba Walker.
Jodie Meeks hit a pair of three-pointers to keep the Lakers in the game, leading the team with six. Dwight Howard had four points while Kobe Bryant didn't score.
After a tough loss in Boston on Thursday night, the Lakers (23-27) visit the Charlotte Bobcats (11-37) on Friday night.
The Bobcats barely lost to the Lakers when they last met in December, getting multiple shots at the game winner in the final seconds. For whatever reason, Charlotte always seems to give the Lakers a tough time.
Kemba Walker was a force in the first meeting. The Lakers should be able to handle the Bobcats but this is by no means a lock.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Bobcats.
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Email Eric Pincus at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.