Back at Staples Center for the first time in more than two weeks, the Los Angeles Lakers look to improve upon the best home record in the NBA. The Lakers, though, could be tested Wednesday night by the Charlotte Bobcats.
Los Angeles tries to win its eighth straight at Staples Center, where it has dropped three in a row against Charlotte.
The Western Conference-leading Lakers (37-12) return home following a 5-3, 12-day trip that ended with Monday’s 95-93 loss to Memphis. Los Angeles had its four-game winning streak snapped, but Kobe Bryant(notes) hit four 3s and matched a season-high with 44 points, moving past Jerry West (25,192) as the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer.
“It’s a great honor to say the least (because) of the great players that have played here and the tradition we have,” said Bryant, 14th all-time with 25,208 points. “(West) taught me so much when I was 17 years old. He showed me a lot about the game, the jump shot and spin moves and all the others.”
West, then the Lakers’ general manager, is also credited with acquiring Bryant from the Charlotte Hornets in what has turned out to be a lopsided 1996 deal that sent Vlade Divac to the Hornets.
Bryant, though, has not enjoyed much success against the NBA team now in Charlotte. While the four-time NBA champion is averaging 34.1 points in nine career games versus the Bobcats (24-23), the Lakers are 3-6 in those contests with losses in six of the last seven meetings and each of the last three.
Bryant had 38 points in Charlotte’s last visit to Staples Center on Jan. 27 of last season, but he fouled out in the first overtime and the Bobcats won 117-110 in double-overtime.
Andrew Bynum(notes), who posted his second consecutive double-double against Charlotte with 24 points, 14 rebounds and six blocks in that game, was called for a flagrant foul after knocking down Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace(notes) in the final minutes of regulation.
Wallace suffered a partially collapsed left lung and a fractured rib on the play and missed the next seven games.
Wallace, a first-time All-Star this season, is averaging 25.2 points and 10.0 boards as the Bobcats have won three of five on a trip that ends Wednesday.
“You can say we’re road weary, but at the end of the day we still have to come compete and give all we have and I don’t think we did that tonight,” Jackson said after the Bobcats committed 21 turnovers and shot 40.6 percent from the field.
If Jackson scores in double figures Wednesday, he will match Wallace’s franchise record of 39 straight games with 10 or more points.
While the Lakers have to face Jackson in a Bobcats uniform for the first time, they won’t have to worry about defending Shannon Brown(notes), who scored five of his 14 points in the second overtime for Charlotte in last season’s matchup in Los Angeles. The Lakers acquired Brown and Adam Morrison(notes) 11 days later for Vladimir Radmanovic(notes).
Phil Jackson needs one victory to move past Pat Riley as the Lakers’ all-time winningest coach with 534.
Los Angeles’ last home win against Charlotte was 99-98 on Dec. 4, 2005.