(SportsNetwork.com) – The Lakers are off to the worst start in Los Angeles
history and hope to finally reach the win column when they host the Charlotte
Hornets Sunday night at Staples Center.
The Lakers are 0-5 for the first time since the 1957-58 Minneapolis squad
opened the season with seven consecutive defeats. Philadelphia is the other
winless team in the NBA at 0-6.
In Tuesday’s 112-106 loss to the Phoenix Suns, NBA leading scorer Kobe Bryant
(27.6 ppg) pumped in a season-high 39 points on 14-of-37 shooting in 44
minutes and grabbed nine rebounds. Jeremy Lin scored a season-best 18 points,
Jordan Hill had 15 and 15 rebounds, and Carlos Boozer chipped in 13 points.
Los Angeles was outscored 32-22 in the second quarter and couldn’t mount a
comeback. It has lost eight in a row at home dating back to last season.
“Kobe battled all night long. He wanted to finish it out. He plays every game
like it’s his last game,” Los Angeles coach Byron Scott said.
Bryant (31,838) is approaching Michael Jordan (32,292) for third on the NBA’s
all-time scoring list. Lin is averaging 14.0 points in three games at home and
is probable Sunday with a sore right foot.
Lakers forward Ryan Kelly made his season debut after hamstring injuries
sidelined him since preseason, scoring two points in seven minutes of action.
He is doubtful Sunday versus the Hornets.
Los Angeles is well rested for Sunday’s matchup and sits last in opponents’
defense at 116.8 points per game. However, it is averaging 102.0 ppg.
The Hornets will play their next four games out west against Los Angeles,
Portland, Phoenix and Golden State. They have lost both of their road games
this season and recorded an exciting 122-119 double-overtime win versus the
Atlanta Hawks Friday night.
Lance Stephenson banked in a 3-pointer as time expired in the second overtime
and finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Al Jefferson had a season-high 34
points and pulled down nine rebounds, while Gary Neal scored 23 points off the
bench for Charlotte, which has won two in a row after losing three straight
and scored 58 points in the paint.
“I was confident I could make a shot,” said Stephenson. “Hopefully that gives
me confidence and I start hitting more shots.”
Charlotte also tallied 27 points off 19 Atlanta turnovers and made 49.5
percent from the floor. The Hornets sank only 6-of-21 3-pointers.
Hornets forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had 10 points after missing the
previous two games with a rib contusion. Guard Kemba Walker missed out on a
triple-double, posting 15 points, 10 assists and nine boards.
Jefferson has scored 20 or more points in four straight games.
Charlotte and Los Angeles split a pair of meetings last season with each team
prevailing as the guest. The Lakers had won five straight in the series until
a 110-100 loss on Jan. 31 at Staples Center. Jefferson had 40 points and 18
rebounds to lead the charge.
Charlotte has lost 10 of the last 14 games as the visitor in this series.