Kobe Bryant wasn't around at the finish of a bad loss, and Phil Jackson didn't stick around very long to explain what happened.
The Los Angeles Lakers' stunning 108-95 home defeat to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night dropped them behind three teams in the Western Conference standings. Jason Richardson had 34 points and 10 rebounds, Raymond Felton added 13 points and 10 assists for Charlotte, and Bryant drew two technical fouls in a span of 29 seconds late in the fourth quarter and was ejected.
Bryant has 15 technicals, and one more means an automatic one-game suspension.
"Well, I may look like I'm here to explain something, but I have nothing to explain," Jackson said of losing to a Charlotte squad that is now 7-28 on the road. "I can't explain it, so don't ask me any questions. It just looked like we were out of character, tremendously out of character, in more ways than one — irrational play at times, inconsistent at best, but just some poor judgments, poor decisions."
When a reporter asked about Bryant, Jackson smiled, stood up and left the interview room.
New Orleans took over the West lead with a thrilling 100-99 win at Cleveland. Houston and San Antonio remained one game behind the Hornets in the Southwest Division and conference standings by also winning. The Rockets defeated Minnesota 97-86, while the Spurs took the Los Angeles Clippers 97-88.
Elsewhere, it was Boston 117, Phoenix 97; Toronto 89, Detroit 82; Philadelphia 121, Chicago 99; New Jersey 124, Indiana 117; Atlanta 115, Milwaukee 96; Washington 104, Seattle 99; New York 103, Miami 96 in OT; and Sacramento 107, Memphis 106 in OT.
Bobcats 108, Lakers 95
The loss dropped the Lakers (49-23) into a three-way tie for second place in the West with Houston and San Antonio.
"Our defense was terrible from the start," Luke Walton said. "Every team has talented players. If you don't show up ready to play, that's what's going to happen. There's no excuse for us to come out on our home court and not take care of business."
Matt Carroll added 18 points and Gerald Wallace had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Bobcats, who won for just the second time in eight games and snapped a six-game road losing streak.
Hornets 100, Cavaliers 99
David West's 17-foot jumper, coming on Chris Paul's 20th assist with less than a second left, gave the Hornets their fifth straight win.
LeBron James' 75-foot heave at the horn bounced off the 24-second clock at the other end. He had 21 points.
Peja Stojakovic scored 25 points — 18 on 3-pointers — and West added 20 points for the Hornets.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored a season-high 29 points with 15 rebounds for Cleveland, which had its nine-game home winning streak end.
Rockets 97, Timberwolves 86
At Houston, Tracy McGrady scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and Luis Scola had 18 points and a career-high 18 rebounds. McGrady also had 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Al Jefferson had 21 and 10 rebounds for Minnesota, which had won four of its last six.
Spurs 97, Clippers 88
At San Antonio, Tim Duncan had 26 points and 12 rebounds in the fifth straight victory for the Spurs, who are in fifth place in the West.
Corey Maggette scored 22 points for Los Angeles, which has lost nine in a row and is out of playoff contention.
Celtics 117, Suns 97
At Boston, Kevin Garnett scored 30 points, sinking the final two to an "M-V-P!" chant echoing through the new Boston Garden, and Paul Pierce had 12 of his 27 in the fourth quarter. Rajon Rondo scored 14 points with six rebounds and six assists while frustrating Shaquille O'Neal into a technical foul as Boston turned a tie game into a double-digit lead in the third quarter.
Amare Stoudemire scored 32 and O'Neal had 16 with seven rebounds for the Suns.
Raptors 89, Pistons 82
At Toronto, Chris Bosh scored 21 points and T.J. Ford had 13 points and nine assists in his return to the starting lineup. Toronto won for just the fourth time in 15 games, but avoided falling below .500 for the first time since a Nov. 24 loss at Cleveland dropped it to 6-7.
Chauncey Billups scored 24 points for Detroit, which has lost three of four.
76ers 121, Bulls 99
At Philadelphia, Lou Williams scored 23 points and Andre Miller had a season-high 18 assists for the 76ers.
The Sixers led by 22 in the first half en route to their 19th victory in their last 24 games. The Sixers (37-35) are two games over .500 for the first time all season, have won 11 of 12 at home and are 11-2 in March to charge up the East standings.
Nets 124, Pacers 117
Devin Harris had 22 points and a career-best 15 assists and the host Nets kept pace with Atlanta for the final playoff berth in the East.
Vince Carter added 22 points and a season-high 14 rebounds and Josh Boone had a career-best 26 points.
Mike Dunleavy had 33 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Pacers (29-43), who trail the Hawks by 2½ games.
Hawks 115, Bucks 96
At Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 28 points, Josh Childress added 20 and the Hawks escaped a major scare when X-rays on point guard Mike Bibby's left thumb were negative.
Bibby left the game in the fourth quarter and didn't return, but trainer Wally Blase said he had a strain.
Andrew Bogut led the Bucks with 27 points and nine rebounds, but the 7-foot center left the game after Marvin Williams accidentally hit him in the face midway through the fourth quarter.
Wizards 104, SuperSonics 99
At Seattle, reserve Roger Mason made five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter in leading the Wizards. Mason, averaging 8.6 points coming in, finished with 22 points. He matched his career high with six 3-pointers. Caron Butler had 21 points.
Kevin Durant scored 32 points for the Sonics. Nick Collison matched his career high with 21 rebounds.
Knicks 103, Heat 96, OT
Jamal Crawford scored 24 points, including the go-ahead jumper with about 2½ minutes left in overtime, and the Knicks ended their longest home losing streak in nearly 45 years.
Zach Randolph had 16 points and 14 rebounds, and David Lee added 15 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, who had dropped a franchise record-tying seven in a row at home for the first time since late 1963.
Ricky Davis finished with 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Heat.
Kings 107, Grizzlies 106, OT
Kevin Martin scored 36 points and made two free throws in the closing seconds of overtime. After a timeout, Memphis' Kyle Lowry drove to the basket and flipped up an off-balance shot that never hit the rim.
Ron Artest had 24 points and six steals for the Kings, who have beaten the Grizzlies 19 straight games at Arco Arena.
Hakim Warrick had 26 points and eight rebounds for Memphis, which committed 24 turnovers.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.