Even Al Jefferson Exposes Suddenly Starless Los Angeles Lakers

If the Los Angeles Lakers haven't hit rock bottom yet, they sure are getting close.

Six losses in a row and 18 in their past 21 outings would be sorry-enough indicators on their own. Throw in a 110-100 home loss to the Charlotte Bobcats that wasn't even as close as the final score would suggest, and the depths of L.A.'s season of despair only seem to deepen.

Those "brave" fans who showed up at Staples Center on Friday night were witness to one of the NBA's oldest and most successful franchises getting manhandled on its own floor by the league's youngest and least decorated outfit. So, too, was Kobe Bryant, who was chosen by the fans to start for the Western Conference at the 2014 All-Star Game in New Orleans. Bryant wasn't able to come to the Lakers' aide on this night, nor will he be fit to play during the midseason showcase, due to a left knee injury.

If there was any All-Star to be found in the building on this night, it was Al Jefferson. The Bobcats big man, who was "snubbed" out of a spot on the Eastern Conference squad, tied his career high with 40 points and, with his game-high 18 rebounds, sealed his third straight 30-10 performance.

All of which made Pau Gasol's solid night (24 points, nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks) look feeble by comparison.

It's not often that a player of Big Al's caliber (i.e., a player with borderline All-Star talent, but never quite elite) storms onto the Lakers' turf looking like a world-beater—or, rather, it wasn't often that such had happened in L.A.

Up until 2013-14, the Lakers always seemed to sport enough star power on their roster to outshine lesser lights. Even last season, when they underwhelmed to the tune of 45 wins and a first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, L.A. still managed to "own the room" with no fewer than four familiar faces.

Of course, one of them (Dwight Howard)...

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