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Charlotte continues road swing against Lakers

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Charlotte Bobcats started their four-game western trip with a win and they'll try to keep the momentum going Friday night when they head to the Staples Center to visit the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Bobcats opened their trek with a 101-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets Wednesday night.

Al Jefferson was dominant with 35 points and 11 rebounds. Gerald Henderson added 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Ramon Sessions scored 16 and dished out seven assists for the Bobcats, who snapped a two-game slide.

"One of the keys to the game was we got off to a good start. We struggled defensively in the second half with the high pick-and-roll defense. I thought in the last three or four minutes we played well defensively," said Bobcats coach Steve Clifford.

It will be a return of sorts for Clifford as he was a Lakers assistant last season.

The Bobcats may get a huge piece back on Friday night as Kemba Walker is close to a return. He's missed the last five games with a sprained left ankle, but practiced Thursday and could be a go for either Friday or Saturday against the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers are mired in a five-game losing streak and are a 1/2 game out of dead last in the Western Conference.

After a seven-game Grammy road trip, where the Lakers lost the last four, LA came home on Tuesday and fell to the Indiana Pacers, 104-92. It was the 13th consecutive outing where the Lakers allowed 100-plus points.

Pau Gasol and Jodie Meeks both scored 21 points for LA. It was Gasol's fifth consecutive 20-point, 10-rebound double-double. Kendall Marshall contributed 11 points and 13 assists.

Prior to the game, the Lakers announced that star Kobe Bryant would miss at least another three weeks before returning to the lineup because of pain and swelling in his left knee.

"At this point there's no use forcing him back," said LA head coach Mike D'Antoni. "So when he's ready, he'll play."

The Lakers did see some encouraging signs on the injury front. Point guards Steve Nash, Jordan Farmar and Steve Blake all practiced on Thursday, but all three have been ruled out against the Bobcats.

"I can get up and down first of all," Nash explained. "I can withstand more demands, more contact, more unpredictable factors, change of direction, playing against somebody. That was something the nerve and spine couldn't handle two weeks ago."

The Lakers have won five straight against the Bobcats, including this season's only matchup in Charlotte.

01/31 10:14:09 ET

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Standings

2013 - 2014 Eastern Conference Standings
 
Atlantic W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-Toronto 48 34 .585 --- 26-15 22-19 32-20 L 1
x-Brooklyn 44 38 .537 4 28-13 16-25 26-26 L 2
New York 37 45 .451 11 19-22 18-23 26-26 W 4
Boston 25 57 .305 23 16-25 9-32 21-31 L 2
Philadelphia 19 63 .232 29 10-31 9-32 14-38 W 2
 
Central W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-Indiana 56 26 .683 --- 35-6 21-20 38-14 W 2
x-Chicago 48 34 .585 8 27-14 21-20 35-17 L 1
Cleveland 33 49 .402 23 19-22 14-27 21-31 W 1
Detroit 29 53 .354 27 17-24 12-29 23-29 L 4
Milwaukee 15 67 .183 41 10-31 5-36 12-40 L 3
 
Southeast W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-Miami 54 28 .659 --- 32-9 22-19 34-18 L 3
x-Washington 44 38 .537 10 22-19 22-19 33-19 W 4
x-Charlotte 43 39 .524 11 25-16 18-23 30-22 W 3
x-Atlanta 38 44 .463 16 24-17 14-27 28-24 W 1
Orlando 23 59 .280 31 19-22 4-37 17-35 L 4
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
2013 - 2014 Western Conference Standings
 
Northwest W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-Oklahoma City 59 23 .720 --- 34-7 25-16 36-16 W 1
x-Portland 54 28 .659 5 31-10 23-18 31-21 W 5
Minnesota 40 42 .488 19 24-17 16-25 23-29 L 3
Denver 36 46 .439 23 22-19 14-27 20-32 L 2
Utah 25 57 .305 34 16-25 9-32 13-39 W 1
 
Pacific W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-LA Clippers 57 25 .695 --- 34-7 23-18 36-16 L 1
x-Golden State 51 31 .622 6 27-14 24-17 31-21 W 2
Phoenix 48 34 .585 9 26-15 22-19 28-24 W 1
Sacramento 28 54 .341 29 17-24 11-30 15-37 L 1
LA Lakers 27 55 .329 30 14-27 13-28 15-37 W 2
 
Southwest W L PCT GB Home Away Conf Streak
y-San Antonio 62 20 .756 --- 32-9 30-11 38-14 L 2
x-Houston 54 28 .659 8 33-8 21-20 31-21 L 1
x-Memphis 50 32 .610 12 27-14 23-18 29-23 W 5
x-Dallas 49 33 .598 13 26-15 23-18 29-23 L 1
New Orleans 34 48 .415 28 22-19 12-29 15-37 W 2
 
x= clinched playoff berth
y= clinched division title
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