Notebook: Wizards 103, Lakers 100

Posted Mar 23, 2013 2:33 AM

Dan Arritt, for

THE FACTS: The Lakers had the core of their starting lineup intact for one of the few times this season and the result remained remarkably consistent. L.A. blew an 18-point second-half lead Friday night against the injury-filled Wizards and lost, 103-100, when Kobe Bryant, who returned after a two-game absence with an ankle sprain, twice missed potential tying shots in the final five seconds at Staples Center.

QUOTABLE: "I can't explain it, but every time we get up 16, it's like, "Well, we're really good and we don't have to play hard,' and we start messing with the game."
-- Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni.

THE STAT: The Lakers also welcomed back Pau Gasol after the veteran forward missed 20 games with a right foot injury. Because of injuries, Bryant, Gasol, Steve Nash and Dwight Howard were in the starting lineup together for just sixth time this season. The Lakers fell to 0-6 in those games.

TURNING POINT: The Lakers went up by 18 points at the start of the third quarter and it seemed only a matter of time before Washington raised the white flag. Instead, the Wizards scratched and clawed their way back, eventually tying the score at 74 on the opening possession of the fourth quarter. The game went back and forth from there, with the Wizards taking the lead for good, 98-97, on Nene's basket with 1:23 left. After a free throw by Nene pushed the lead to two, Bryant missed a pull-up 11-footer with five seconds remaining. Bryant managed to hit a 3-pointer with two seconds left to cut the deficit back to one. Two more free throws by John Wall pushed the lead back to three with 1.5 seconds remaining, and Gasol then found Bryant at the far 3-point line with a long inbounds pass, but Bryant's attempt at the buzzer clanked off the rim.

HOT: Washington forward Trevor Ariza returned to Southern California and brought the heat with him, making a career-high seven 3-pointers on 12 attempts and scoring 25 points. Ariza, who went to Westchester High near L.A. Airport before attending UCLA, made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter alone. Wall also established a career high with 16 assists to go with 24 points. Howard had a strong game for the Lakers, shooting 8-for-9 and scoring 20 points with 15 rebounds. Jodie Meeks gave L.A. a nice boost off the bench, scoring 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting.

NOT: Gasol returned from injury for the third time this season and coach D'Antoni immediately dropped him into the starting lineup. Gasol looked rusty, at best, finishing with four points on 2-for-10 shooting, though he did grab eight rebounds in 21 minutes. Bryant had six of L.A.'s 17 turnovers, which Washington turned into 21 points.

GOOD MOVE: Wall saw he was up against the 39-year-old Nash and 33-year-old Steve Blake and went right to his after-burners, speeding past them every chance he had. Wall took 19 shots but only one was from beyond the 3-point line. He was especially aggressive in the second half, totaling 18 points and 11 assists in that span.

QUOTABLE II: "He's just controlling the game. He's getting the ball up the floor, he's getting it inside quickly before defenses can get set, he's attacking gaps before teams can get set, and he's playing with high confidence."

-- Washington coach Randy Wittman on Wall.

BAD MOVE: The Lakers forgot all about Howard in the fourth quarter, as he did not attempt a shot in nine minutes of action. Bryant, meanwhile, took 10 of his 18 shots in the final quarter, missing four of his last five. It's game like this that Howard will likely remember when it's time to sign a new contract this summer.

QUOTABLE III: "You can't be a fairly good team, or even a good team, without passing the basketball."
-- D'Antoni.

NOTABLE: The Wizards were without starting center Emeka Okafor (flu), top reserve Bradley Beal (left ankle) and back-up point guard A.J. Price (sore right groin). ... Lakers reserve forward Antawn Jamison left the game with a sprained right wrist in the third quarter and did not return. Jamison, who had 11 points and seven rebounds before he was injured, was scheduled to have an X-ray following the game. ... The Wizards have the fifth-best record in the East (20-15) since Wall returned from injury Jan. 2

UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Monday @ Golden State, Wednesday @ Minnesota, Thursday @ Milwaukee. For the Wizards, Saturday @ Golden State, Monday vs. Memphis, Wednesday @ Oklahoma City.