THE FACTS: The Bobcats have never gone down quietly against the Lakers, and that was the case again Tuesday night, as Charlotte couldn't get the basketball to fall through the rim in a wild closing sequence, allowing L.A. to hold on for a 101-100 victory at Staples Center.
THE STAT: The Bobcats fell to 8-8 all-time against the Lakers, but remain one of only two teams in the NBA that doesn't have a losing record against L.A. The other is the Celtics.
QUOTABLE: "We tried to push the tempo at them. They're pretty good at doing that to people."
-- Charlotte coach Mike Dunlap
TURNING POINT: The Lakers erased an 18-point third-quarter deficit with a 28-4 run. Still, the Bobcats didn't go away, climbing back to tie the score at 97 with 2:17 remaining. Kobe Bryant answered with back-to-back baskets, but Dwight Howard was called for goaltending as Jodie Meeks fouled Ramon Sessions, who completed the three-point play to draw Charlotte back within a point. Bryant missed a pull-up jumper on the other end, leaving 21.2 seconds on the clock. Kemba Walker drove to the basket against Bryant but his shot was partially blocked by Howard. Gerald Henderson collected the loose ball but missed a left-handed layup. The ball was then batted out to the 3-point line, where Ben Gordon collected it and missed a desperation shot at the buzzer.
HOT: Bryant finished with 30 points, the seventh straight game he has reached that mark. After losing 10 of the first 11 games in which Bryant scored at least 30 points this season, the Lakers have won the last three.
NOT: Lakers forward Pau Gasol was back in the lineup after missing the previous eight games with tendinitis in his knees. His return figured to reduce the minutes of either Antawn Jamison or Jordan Hill, but it turned out neither played against the Bobcats. Both players had rotated as the starting power forward while Gasol was sidelined.
GOOD MOVE: Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni avoided having his two 7-footers, Gasol and Howard, on the floor at the same time in the fourth quarter. Gasol played the first two minutes, then sat out until the 6:28 mark. Howard then went to the bench until 2:34 remained and Gasol watched the rest of the game from the sideline. The move allowed more room for Bryant to work and he scored 10 points in the final quarter, though he took 10 shots. Howard finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds and Gasol had 10 points and nine rebounds.
QUOTABLE II: "I'm trying to figure out what's the best way to play the team. We will keep looking at film, keep revisiting. We have a couple practices and we'll keep looking at different combinations."
BAD MOVE: D'Antoni decided to start Devin Ebanks at small forward and bring Metta World Peace off the bench, preferably so he could play more power forward. Ebanks only played five minutes and World Peace played 37, taking 18 field-goal attempts on his way to scoring 17 points. At 6-foot-7 and a month after turning 33 years of age, World Peace might be able to get by against the Bobcats, but he'll have a tough go against most of the league's power forwards.
QUOTABLE III: "Metta, going forward, as soon as he gets more comfortable with the 4-role, will be very productive as a 4 and our team will be very productive."
NOTABLE: The three straight wins matches a season high for the Lakers. ... Walker finished with a team-high 28 points and seven assists for the Bobcats, who have lost 12 straight games. ... Meeks scored 17 points for the Lakers, his fourth straight game in double figures, and may have played his way into the starting lineup Saturday at Golden State. ... The Bobcats missed four free throws in the final quarter.
UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Saturday @ Golden State, Tuesday vs. New York, Wednesday @ Denver. For the Bobcats, Wednesday @ Phoenix, Friday @ Golden State, Saturday @ Denver.