LOS ANGELES — Another big night by center Al Jefferson sparked the Charlotte Bobcats to a drought-ending win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Jefferson tied a career-high with 40 points and grabbed 18 rebounds to lift the Bobcats to a 110-100 victory over the Lakers before an announced crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center on Friday night.
Jefferson connected on 18 of 32 field goals as Charlotte (21-27) beat the Lakers for the first time in Los Angeles in five years. The Bobcats also handed Los Angeles (16-31) its sixth straight loss.
“They kept running plays for me and I kept being able to get to my shot,” said Jefferson, who has put up at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in seven of the last eight games. “In the first quarter, they weren’t going down for me, but I was just staying with it and I knew sooner or later it would start going off for me. Just stayed with it and got hot.”
Jefferson, who was coming off a 35-point performance two nights ago in a win over the Denver Nuggets, has scored 20 or more points in 11 straight games, setting a new franchise record. The old mark was held by former Bobcat Jason Richardson, who accomplished the feat during the 2007-08 season.
“That’s Al Jefferson. He’s been doing that all year,” said Lakers forward Nick Young, who finished with 21 points. “We have to find a way to help Pau (Gasol) out more in situations like that. But that’s what Al Jefferson does. He’s a big-time offensive player.”
Guard Gerald Henderson added 20 points for the Bobcats. Guard Ramon Sessions, a former Laker, had 13 assists.
“We came in with a great mind set,” said Henderson, who scored 12 of his points in the first half, eight of them in the second quarter. “That’s a dangerous team because they can shoot the ball. We have to try to take away their threes and kind of filter them into the lane. On our offensive side, we just wanted to attack them.
“Obviously, Al had a mismatch the whole game. We just kept feeding him and he had a great game.”
In addition to his troubles with Jefferson, Gasol, who led the Lakers with 24 points and nine rebounds, also played with a groin injury that has been lingering for weeks. He is scheduled to have an MRI on Saturday. But the Lakers’ center didn’t use the injury as an excuse.
“He was definitely in a good rhythm,” Gasol said of Jefferson. “He’s a good post-up player. We weren’t consistent enough around him and we didn’t make it hard enough.”
Guard Jodie Meeks finished with 19 points for the Lakers, losers of 18 of their last 21 games.
The Bobcats led 62-49 at the half. They shot 58.1 percent (25 of 43) compared to just 41.9 percent (18 of 43) for the Lakers in the first half. Jefferson scored 18 before the break on 8-of-13 shooting.
“It was a good road win,” said Charlotte coach Steve Clifford, who served as an assistant to Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni last season. “I thought the key stretch was the last two-and-a-half minutes of the first half where I think we went from about five or six up to 13.”
Charlotte continued to pour it on in the third quarter, increasing its lead to 81-61 after two free throws by Jefferson with 4:21 remaining. But the Lakers used a 17-5 spurt, including a four-point play by forward Ryan Kelly with 11.5 seconds left in the third, to pull to within 86-78 by the opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
But they got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
The Lakers have given up at least 100 points to the opposition in 14 games in a row.
In a small consolation, Gasol scored 20 or more points for the 10th consecutive game.
NOTES: Help might be on the horizon for the Lakers. Injured G Steve Nash (nerve root irritation), who appeared in only six games this season and has not played since November, G Steve Blake (elbow) and G Jordan Farmar (hamstring) could be available for Tuesday’s game at Minnesota, where the club kicks off a three-game road trip. All three practiced Thursday. … The Bobcats outscored the Lakers 34-16 in the paint in the first half. They also outrebounded them 23-14. … Charlotte G Kemba Walker, who has missed the past six games with a sprained left ankle, has also been ruled out of Saturday’s contest at Phoenix. … Bobcats G Gerald Henderson is one of eight NBA guards to start every game. … The Bobcats cap their four-game swing against the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday.
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