Los Angeles fell a game behind New Orleans for the top spot in the Western Conference. New Orleans won a thriller over Cleveland earlier in the evening.
The Lakers, however, maintained a 1 1/2-game lead over Phoenix in the fight for the Pacific Division title. The Suns fell to Boston Wednesday.
Los Angeles, playing without center Pau Gasol (ankle), trailed by only six with 5:15 to play after struggling offensively throughout the contest. But Charlotte then ran off eight points in a row to put the game away.
Frustrated with calls by the officials all evening, Bryant picked up his second technical foul and was kicked out of the contest with 3:40 to play.
Matt Carroll added 18 points for Charlotte, which had lost six of its previous seven.
Bryant scored 27 points and Lamar Odom had 18 for the Lakers.