Bobcats-Lakers Preview

The Associated Press

The Los Angeles Lakers will play only one game at Staples Center over the next two weeks. A matchup with the NBA's worst team could make that appearance a winning one.

After earning a rare road win, the Lakers will try to extend the woeful Charlotte Bobcats' losing streak to nine games Tuesday night.

Los Angeles (12-9) will play a season-high six consecutive road games beginning Friday and won't return home until Valentine's Day.

The Lakers are coming off only their second win in nine road games this season, but it wasn't easy. They blew an 18-point lead against Minnesota on Sunday before pulling out a 106-101 victory.

"We have to still learn, try to be a little more consistent and be smarter when we have big leads and allow teams back in the ball game. Other than that, we're happy with a win," said forward Pau Gasol, who had a season-high 28 points while shooting 11 of 15 from the field.

Kobe Bryant had 35 points and a season-high 14 rebounds Sunday, while Andrew Bynum added 21 points to help the Lakers reach 100 for the first time in 14 games.

The Lakers now will seek their first back-to-back victories since their season-high five-game winning streak ended in mid-January. A visit from the Bobcats (3-18) would seem to provide a prime opportunity.

Charlotte enters this game seeking to avoid its longest skid since a club-record 13 consecutive defeats Jan. 11-Feb. 1, 2006.

The Bobcats have averaged 85.4 points during their current eight-game slide. They've also dropped their last eight road games.

Despite missing five players due to injury, Charlotte nearly scored in triple figures for the fourth time this season Saturday with help from Kemba Walker's first career triple-double. The Bobcats, though, fell 102-99 to visiting Washington as they missed their final three shots including a pair of potential tying 3-pointers.

Leading scorers Gerald Henderson and D.J. Augustin were among the players who missed Saturday's loss. Augustin has missed the last four games with a toe injury, and Henderson re-injured his back during an 89-72 loss at Philadelphia on Friday.

"We had guys that made shots. We just couldn't make free throws. That was our downfall," coach Paul Silas said after Saturday's defeat. "We battled and fought. I was very proud of the guys being as short-handed as we are and taking that team to the brink."

Augustin is expected to sit out again Tuesday, but Henderson, D.J. White and Reggie Williams could be back on the court.

Henderson scored 18 points in a 109-89 rout of the Lakers in Charlotte on Feb. 14, but finished with seven in a 92-84 loss at Staples Center on March 4.

Los Angeles is seeking its third consecutive home win over the Bobcats.

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