Kemba Walker tried everything he could to prevent Kobe Bryant from getting his first win in four games back from an Achilles injury, finishing with a game-high 24 points and eight assists, but the Cats could not hold off a fourth-quarter Lakers rally in an 88-85 loss on December 14 at Time Warner Cable Arena. Bryant had 21 points, including six in the deciding fourth quarter, where Charlotte was outscored, 24-17.
Following Ben Gordon’s jumper to start the fourth quarter and give the Cats a 70-64 lead, a lineup consisting primarily of Charlotte reserves (Ramon Sessions, Gordon, Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo, along with starter Jeffery Taylor) went cold for the Cats. Charlotte missed the only two shots they took and turned the ball over three times in a span of 3:10 as the Lakers rattled off a 9-2 run and took a 73-72 lead… The Cats starters checked in and seemed to find their groove behind seven points in the stanza from Kemba Walker as they pushed their lead to 85-79 with 2:50 remaining. But the lead wouldn’t last as Charlotte missed its last eight field goal attempts and was outscored 9-0 in the game’s final moments, led by four points from Kobe Bryant… Ben Gordon still had the chance to send the game into overtime but his running three-pointer was too strong with 2.5 seconds remaining as Los Angeles stole the win.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
A look at the box score shows the Cats with a host of statistical advantages. Charlotte outshot the Lakers 43.8 percent to 39.0 percent from the field, outrebounded them, 46-40, outscored them 46-30 in the paint, outscored them 16-2 on the break and turned it over 13 times (leading to eight Laker points) to Los Angeles’ 15 (leading to 12 Charlotte points). So what was the key difference? Free throws and three-pointers. The Cats connected on just 62.5 percent of their freebies and only got to the line eight times. The Lakers hit on 91.3 of their free throws and went to the line 23 times. Los Angeles went to the line more times in the fourth quarter (10-for-10) than Charlotte did the entire contest. The Bobcats also made 15.4 percent (2-for-13) of their shots from beyond the arc to the Lakers 35.0 percent (7-for-20)… Kemba Walker led four Cats in double-digit scoring with 24 points, followed by Al Jefferson (14), Gerald Henderson (13) and Ben Gordon (10).
BOBCATS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kemba Walker scored a game-high 24 points on 76.9 percent shooting (10-for-13) and added a game-high-tying eight assists. After starting the game 1-for-2 from the field, Walker hit nine-consecutive shots as Charlotte tried to open the lead into the fourth quarter. Walker has now scored in double figures in 13-consecutive games and 21 of 24 contests this season, including nine games with 20 points or more.
LAKERS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kobe Bryant scored a team-high 21 points in his fourth game back from an Achilles tear. Bryant connected on 53.3 percent (8-for-15) of his shots from the field, dished out eight assists and grabbed seven rebounds to go with seven turnovers.
Entering the game, the Bobcats were giving up only 92.7 points per game, which was the third-lowest average in the NBA, and that number will only get better with the Lakers 88-point performance. Last season, the team allowed 102.7 points per contest, ranking 29th in the league. … The Bobcats have now held their opponent under 100 points in 20 of their 24 games this season, the most such games in the NBA. Prior to the game against Golden State on December 9, the Bobcats held 13-straight opponents under 100 points, which tied the second-longest streak in franchise history. The 13-game streak also tied the longest in the NBA this season, set by the Spurs from Nov. 5-29. … Since being drafted in 2011, Kemba Walker has played in all 172 regular-season games, joining Golden State’s Klay Thopson as the only two players in their draft class who have yet to miss a game. Walker’s streak of 172 consecutive games played surpassed Raymond Felton’s 170 to become the third longest in franchise history, behind only Boris Diaw’s 245 and Emeka Okafor’s 175… Al Jefferson has scored in double figures in 11-straight games and has recorded double-doubles in five of his last eight contests. He came up one rebound shy of a double-double against the Lakers (14 points, nine rebounds)… Gerald Henderson reached double figures for the 15th consecutive game and the 22nd time this season… Undefeated professional boxer Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was in attendance against the Lakers. Mayweather is the WBC welterweight champion, WBA (Super) super welterweight champion, WBC Super welterweight champion, recipient of the WBC diamond super welterweight belt, current Ring #1 ranked welterweight, and Ring #1 ranked junior middleweight.
The Cats next tip off at 7 p.m. on Dec. 17 against Sacramento at Time Warner Cable Aren. Listen live on WFNZ 610am, the official Bobcats app or on bobcats.com. The game can also be seen on SportSouth and NBA League Pass.