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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, February 8th (All times Eastern)

Los Angeles Lakers (23-27) at Charlotte Bobcats (11-37), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant may have lit a fire underneath Dwight Howard by questioning his toughness, but the tactic still prevented the Los Angeles Lakers from extending their winning streak.

The Lakers will resume their road trip Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats.

Howard had missed three straight games with a shoulder ailment and Bryant expressed his feelings about his new teammate through the media.

"We don't have time for (Howard's shoulder) to heal," said Bryant. "We need some urgency."

Bryant said his comments were blown out of proportion. Howard had a chance to respond prior to Thursday's 116-95 loss at Boston.

"That's his opinion, that's it," Howard said. "He's not a doctor, I'm not a doctor. That's his opinion."

Bryant netted 27 points and did not record an assist for just the third time this season, while Howard had only nine points and nine rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Jodie Meeks and Antawn Jamison scored 13 and 11 points, respectively, in the loss.

The Lakers had won three in a row and six of seven games, and dropped to 3-2 on a seven-game Grammy road trip. They will also visit the Miami Heat on the sojourn, are 8-17 as the guest and 3 1/2 games off the final playoff spot.

Charlotte is back in the Tar Heel State following an unsuccessful five-game road trip (0-5), which concluded with Wednesday's 122-95 loss at Cleveland.

Byron Mullens had 15 points off the bench, while Ramon Sessions tallied 14 and Gerald Henderson 12 for the Bobcats, losers in 13 of the last 15 games. The Cavaliers held a 45-37 advantage on the glass and outscored the Bobcats in the paint, 50-30.

"The physical effort was unacceptable and we don't like that," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "We expected tonight to play full on and we didn't."

Bobcats leading scorer Kemba Walker was held to five points and made 2-of-11 shots from the field. He still leads the team with 17.5 ppg and had scored in double figures in 18 consecutive games. Meanwhile, Sessions is averaging 18.5 ppg in his last seven contests.

The Bobcats faced the Lakers back on Dec. 18 at Staples Center and were handed a 101-100 loss. L.A. has won three in a row in this series, but is winless in three straight and five of six trips to Time Warner Cable Arena.

02/08 10:24:37 ET

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