Charlotte (5-12) at Los Angeles (6-9)

Fair Currently: Los Angeles, CA
Temp: 80° F
  • Game info: 9:30 pm EST Sun Dec 4, 2005
  • TV: WJZY, FSW
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Kobe Bryant is telling anyone who follows the Los Angeles Lakers to be patient.

If the Lakers squander another big lead when they play the Charlotte Bobcats, fans may not stay that calm.

For the second straight game, Los Angeles blew a double-digit lead, but this time, they lost, falling 113-108 Friday night to the Minnesota Timberwolves after leading by as many as 18 points.

“I told the players this was about as good a game as we’ve played offensively,” coach Phil Jackson said after the Lakers’ fifth loss in seven games. “Unfortunately, defensively we couldn’t stop the Timberwolves. They were on fire.”

Bryant had 20 points, nine rebounds and a season-high eight assists.

“It’s not an easy offense to learn for so many young players, so it’s important to be patient,” Bryant said. “Phil and my tolerance for patience is pretty much the same, so I don’t think we’re in the same boat right now. We have to be patient. That’s the only way that we can improve, and we know that.”

Jackson’s return to the team where he won three NBA titles hasn’t been as smooth the second time around. Los Angeles has hovered near the bottom of the Pacific Division and won consecutive games only once this season.

Like the Lakers, Charlotte is struggling for a win. The Bobcats lost their eighth straight road game Friday, 107-100 to the Golden State Warriors.

“When you shoot 33 percent from the field and stay in the game you don’t have to hang your head,” Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. “We took the shots and they just didn’t fall. They took it from us.”

Reigning rookie of the year Emeka Okafor had 19 points, 10 rebounds and a career high-tying six blocks.

Charlotte is just 5-46 on the road in franchise history. The Bobcats have never won a road game against a Pacific Division opponent.

The Bobcats got more bad news when leading scorer Kareem Rush left with a finger injury. He will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.

Rush is averaging 15.0 ppg and had scored in double figures in eight previous games before Friday. He is listed as questionable for the Lakers’ game.

Charlotte is just 5-46 on the road in franchise history. The Bobcats have never won a road game against a Pacific Division opponent.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 3): Bobcats - 4th place, 5 GB, Southeast Division. Lakers - 5th place, 4 1/2 GB, Pacific Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Bobcats - F Okafor, F Gerald Wallace, C Primoz Brezec, G Rush, G Brevin Knight. Lakers - F Lamar Odom, F Brian Cook, C Chris Mihm, G Bryant, G Smush Parker.

TEAM LEADERS: Bobcats - Wallace, 16.4 ppg; Okafor, 10.1 rpg; Knight, 8.3 apg. Lakers - Bryant, 32.3 ppg; Odom, 10.1 rpg and 5.5 apg.

2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Lakers, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: March 12; Lakers, 117-116. At Charlotte, N.C., Bryant scored 21 points in the fourth quarter and hit a jumper with 0.9 seconds left to lift the Lakers.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bobcats - 1-9 on the road; Lakers - 3-5 at home.

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