Jackson Earns 300th Win With Lakers
L.A. Lakers 97, Washington 91
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 16 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers maintained the momentum of their outstanding road trip and handed coach Phil Jackson a milestone win.
Bryant scored 41 points to lead the Lakers to their seventh win in eight games, a 97-91 triumph over the Washington Wizards.
"It was important that we have a good road trip and it is important that we come back home and continue that momentum," Bryant said.
"It shouldn't have happened that way," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "They just came off of a six-game road trip and I felt we could bring the force to them and bring the energy to them. But we couldn't make the big play and take some of the wind out of their sails."
Jackson is 300-133 with Los Angeles and 845-326 overall.
"That's big," Bryant said of Jackson's 300 wins as the Laker coach. "He's been a part of so many dynasties that I can't even count how many. Hopefully this will be another one for him."
It was the 45th career 40-point game and fifth this season for Bryant, who was 14-of-24 from the field and 11-of-14 from the line. The Lakers improved to 3-2 this season when their superstar scores 40.
Bryant scored 14 points in the third quarter, including a flashy reverse layup that gave Los Angeles the lead for good, 56-55, with 7:54 remaining.
Despite shooting just 34 percent (26-of-76) and getting outrebounded, 46-31, the Wizards had a chance to steal the game at the end. Gilbert Arenas, who scored 29 points on 6-of-20 shooting, converted a three-point play with 25 seconds left to make it 93-91.
However, Lamar Odom alertly zipped the inbounds pass to Devean George at the other end of the court. George went in for the easy layup, which doomed Washington to its fourth loss in five games.
"I was on Kobe," Wizards swingman Caron Butler said. "Kobe went inside and I came back out to guard him. I saw Devean going out and no coverage on him so I tried to run down and catch him. I think we had a sub and there was just a miscommunication on who was guarding who."
"We wanted to press and I believe there was 24.9 seconds (left) and we had to get a foul so we could run up and press, but we didn't see the leak out," Jordan said. "The leak out is something that is going to happen and everybody is responsible. It was a good play by the Lakers."
Butler scored 20 points in his first game against the Lakers since being traded to the Wizards, along with Chucky Atkins, for Kwame Brown and Laron Profit in the offseason. Atkins added seven points while Brown collected six points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles.
Arenas was concerned about the slowdown Wizards' offensive tempo during the slide.
"We are struggling with position," Arenas said. "We are right there. When we get out of our slump, we get easy baskets, layups, and get out in the open. I think we are slowing it down a bit too much for people who like to get layups."
The Wizards kept the game close throughout by making their free throws. The team came into the game making just under 73 percent of their free throws, but managed to make 33-of-37 (89 percent) from the line.
"This is where we are right now," Jordan said. "We can get to the line; Caron can get to the line and Gilbert did a good job getting to the line but they took it to us."