Lakers 88, Charlotte Bobcats 85 (final)
Pau Gasol shut down Charlotte’s Al Jefferson in the final minutes as the Lakers made a late push to end a three-game losing streak, winning their first game since the return of Kobe Bryant from an Achilles injury.
Kemba Walker, the game’s leading scorer with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting, converted a jump shot with 2:50 left to give the Bobcats a six-point lead. They wouldn’t score again.
With the Lakers down by six, Nick Young hit a three-pointer to slice Charlotte’s lead in half. Kobe Bryant hit a layup and a pair of free throws to give the Lakers the lead.
Gasol, who hit only two of 10 shots in the first half, closed out the scoring with two free throws to put the Lakers up by three. He finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. He also turned the ball over six times and shot 6 of 18 from the field.
Bryant led the Lakers with 21 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. He also had seven of the Lakers 15 turnovers.
Young also struggled with his shot (2 of 10 from the field) but still managed 13 points, mostly at the line (8 of 9). Jordan Hill also had 15 points for the Lakers, who shot 39% from the field.
The Bobcats also got 14 points from Jefferson (7-of-18 shooting), 13 from Gerald Henderson and 10 from Ben Gordon. Charlotte shot 43.8% from the field but took only eight free throws to the Lakers’ 23.
With the win, the Lakers’ record climbs to 11-12. They travel next to Atlanta to play the Hawks on Monday.
Charlotte (10-14) hosts the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.
Bobcats 68, Lakers 64 (end of third quarter)
The Bobcats stormed the Lakers early in the third quarter to take a nine-point lead.
The Lakers rallied offensively, but couldn’t get enough stops to regain the lead.
Pau Gasol found his touch late in the quarter, finishing with 13 points. Kobe Bryant leads the Lakers with 15 points and seven assists but he also seven turnovers.
The Lakers are shooting 40.7% from the field. Jordan Hill also contributed 15 points.
Kemba Walker was high scorer for the Bobcats with 17 points to go along with eight assists. Charlotte is shooting 46.4% from the field.
Al Jefferson (14 points) and Gerald Henderson (10) also hit double figures for the Bobcats.
Lakers 44, Bobcats 43 (halftime)
The Bobcats pushed their lead to six before the Lakers climbed back on top to end the half ahead by one point.
Kobe Bryant has 13 points, including a pair of three-pointers, to lead all scorers. He also dished four assists and had four turnovers.
The Lakers shot only 38.5% from the field but took advantage of the Bobcats at the free-throw line (9 of 11) and behind the arc (5 of 9).
Charlotte shot 45.5% from the field but missed all six three-point shots. The Bobcats only took four free throws, making three.
Al Jefferson, Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon each scored eight apiece to lead Charlotte.
Pau Gasol converted only two of 10 attempts in 17 minutes.
Bobcats 23, Lakers 21 (end of first quarter)
The Bobcats took a one-point lead after 12 minutes in Charlotte, holding the Lakers to 35% shooting from the field.
Kobe Bryant, who has two assists and one turnover, leads all scorers with eight points.
Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker have six points apiece for the Bobcats, who shot 41.7% from the field as a team.
Pau Gasol struggled to score, hitting only one shot in six tries for two points.
The Lakers (10-12), losers of three in a row, visit the Charlotte Bobcats (10-13) on Saturday night.
Charlotte has emerged as one of the league’s better defensive teams. In the weaker Eastern Conference, they’re in sixth place -- only two games behind the third-place Atlanta Hawks (12-11).
With a loss on Friday in Oklahoma City (18-14), the Lakers are going to need a strong performance to win on the second night of back-to-back games.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Bobcats.