The Lakers had lost their past two home games to Utah and Orlando.

Staples Center fans had reason to boo Tuesday night when the Charlotte Bobcats, who came in on an 11-game losing streak that began with a loss by 45 points to the Oklahoma City team the Lakers are trying to unseat in the Western Conference, were beating the Lakers by 18 points in the third quarter.

The Lakers rallied to avoid absorbing another humbling result - actually matching their season high of three consecutive victories by beating the Bobcats, 101-100. Dwight Howard began a frantic defensive stand in the final seconds with a block of Charlotte guard Kemba Walker, and Kobe Bryant hit two key shots down the stretch to score 30 points - his seventh consecutive game with at least that many.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of the danger time: "I'd be booing, too."

If Steve Nash is soon going to be the savior, let's start by giving him some credit for a somewhat miraculous Lakers victory.

Pau Gasol spent the past eight games sitting out, waiting for the tendinitis in his knees to abate ... and watching the games from afar next to the also injured Nash. Gasol returned Tuesday night without the protective bands around his knees and with a better appreciation for how he could help the team.

Gasol had 10 points, nine rebounds and five assists in 30 minutes - sitting out the final minutes as Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni went with a small lineup of Metta World Peace, Bryant, Jodie Meeks and Darius Morris around Howard (16 points, 18 rebounds).

Playing the center position that D'Antoni concedes is best for him, Gasol helped key the Lakers' rally to start the fourth quarter and unleashed a primal scream after scoring and assisting on the period's first two baskets. With Nash planning on practicing Thursday and Friday, he could be back from his fractured fibula as soon as Saturday at Golden State.