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Charlotte Bobcats Come Up Short as Kobe Bryant Gets First Win Since Return

Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a close loss just a night before to the Indiana Pacers, the Charlotte Bobcats looked for some redemption against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

In a game that saw two teams with similar records, the score proved that this actually was a very even-looking matchup. Even though today people always assume the Cats will be horrible, they have proven that they can knock off big-name teams and be competitive.

Despite another game with great fight, Charlotte fell to the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers (who are always assumed to be a good team with Bryant) by a final score of 88-85. This is Bryant’s first win with the Lakers since returning this week.

Our mention of the 15-time All Star doesn’t just end there as tonight he was once again the star, the difference-maker, the impact player and the reason the Lakers were victorious.

The Bobcats couldn’t control Kobe at any point of this game. Though an 8-of-15 (2-of-5 from three) shooting performance isn’t amazing, 21 points will get the job done in most games. Wait right there … You think I’m just going to talk about points and that’s it? Get your head straight because that’s not how we roll.

Not only was the “Black Mamba” a force on the scoring end, but he also proved he is more than just his high-scoring self as the five-time NBA champ led the way with seven rebounds and eight assists.

People need to forget about making jokes, memes and overall comments about Kobe’s lack of passing … that insult just doesn’t work anymore as he is showing on a consistent basis that he’s one of the best passers this team has.

Other performances weren’t too great for the Lakers tonight as nobody else really said, “you’ll be wowed at my performance when you look at the box score.” Pau Gasol and Jordan Hill contributed 16 total rebounds on way to the teams 11th win of the season.

You want to know what was odd? The Cats literally outdid the Lakers in what looked to be every statistic. Charlotte had more rebounds (offensive and defensive) , assists, better field goal percentage and less turnovers, but a worse free throw and three-point percentage seemed to do them in.

The Bobcats only went 5-of-8 from the line tonight as well as 2-of-13 from three-point land. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers led the Cats in both category’s tonight. Just one three or three more made free throws could have put Charlotte right back in this game. It just shows how important free throws really can be when games become close.

The Bobcats blew a six-point lead with just under four minutes to go in front of their home crowd. Bryant proved clutch yet again as he swished two-straight free throws with 37 seconds left to get the lead in the game at 86-85.

Al Jefferson missed a lead-changing jumper with eight seconds left as Pau Gasol was then fouled by Ben Gordon with six seconds left on the clock. He hit both free throws and gave the Lakers a three-point lead. Gordon then missed a game-tying 26-foot trey as the game went final on a Gasol block of a Jefferson layup attempt.

Kemba Walker led the way for Charlotte tonight as he had 24 points (10-of-13 shooting), three rebounds and eight assists.

Fun fact: Floyd Mayweather attended tonight’s game.

The Bobcats’ next game is Tuesday as they go up against the Sacramento Kings and newly-acquired Rudy Gay at 7 p.m. ET at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Daniel Carney covers the Charlotte Bobcats for rantsports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_jcarney, subscribe to him on YouTube where he talks sports, and add him on Google+.