Lakers Gameday | 02/03/08 | Lakers 103, Wizards 91
Kobe Leads Lakers in Win Over Wizards
Driving and dunking and dropping in a 3-pointer, Kobe Bryant delivered a game's worth of highlights in the first quarter Sunday, outscoring the Washington Wizards all by himself.
Then he let his Los Angeles Lakers teammates join in all the fun.
Bryant put up 19 points in the opening period on his way to finishing with 30, and the Lakers ran their offense so well there was no need for the newly acquired Pau Gasol to don a uniform in a 103-91 victory over the Wizards.
"Just taking what they were going to give me,'' said Bryant, an efficient 10-for-15 on field goals.
Gasol, the 7-foot Spaniard who came over from the Memphis Grizzlies in a trade Friday, sat on the sideline in a pinstriped suit jacket, listening to tips on the Lakers' triangle offense from assistant coach Brian Shaw.
The 2002 NBA Rookie of the Year's new teammates put on quite a clinic, too, repeatedly making the extra pass to find wide-open looks. The Lakers compiled 27 assists on 41 field goals, with Vladimir Radmanovic scoring 15 points, Lamar Odom 14, and Ronny Turiaf 13.
Another measure of how well the visitors played: Nine Lakers scored in the second quarter.
"We've grown a lot together. And we understand how to play with one another,'' Bryant said. "That's the big thing - the chemistry. Knowing where guys are.''
Asked whether he'd like to see the Lakers make another move before the trade deadline, he said: "I'm letting (general manager) Mitch (Kupchak) handle that stuff. I gave up playing GM in the summer.''
His every move greeted by a mix of boos and cheers - even some "M-V-P!'' chants - from the sellout crowd of 20,173, Bryant gave the Wizards fits whenever he was on the floor.
Leave it to Wizards rookie Nick Young, who grew up in California as a Lakers and Bryant fan, to sum things up: "He's just better in person.''
Young, a reserve, tried guarding Bryant some, and wound up with three fouls before halftime. That, at least, was better than the player chiefly assigned to guard Bryant, DeShawn Stevenson. He was sitting down, a black T-shirt over his jersey, with three fouls, only 6 1/2 minutes into the game.
"He's going to get calls,'' Stevenson said. "Two of them, I don't think that was a foul, but that's the way it is when you're guarding a guy like that.''
Caron Butler - back after missing three games with a hip injury - also tried to defend Bryant, with similar results. On one sequence, Butler was spun around on Bryant's twisting baseline drive for a layup. On another, Bryant made a 3-pointer over the outstretched hand of his former teammate.
Add it up, and Bryant helped Los Angeles build a 30-15 lead after one quarter - or, put another way: Kobe 19, Wizards 15.
Bryant had 25 points by halftime, when the Lakers were up 63-41 - the most points allowed by Washington in a first half this season. Los Angeles made 66 percent of its shots in the half, while limiting Washington to only 36 percent.
"He took us out of the game,'' Stevenson said. "We were passive. We weren't trying to attack. That's not like us.''
Wizards coach Eddie Jordan noticed that, too.
And he was critical of his team, which has lost three games in a row.
"We didn't play as a group as well as we need to play to beat a team like the Lakers. Or anybody. We don't win this game against anybody tonight,'' Jordan said. "We had bailouts, we had short cuts and not enough passion from everybody and not enough concentration from everybody.''
Notes: Butler scored 15 points, while Washington's other All-Star selection, Antawn Jamison, led the team with 21 points and 11 rebounds. ... Gasol shot before the game but did not suit up. "We want him to practice first,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. ... Butler's free-throw streak ended after an NBA season-best 73 consecutive makes; he missed one with 17.5 seconds left in the third quarter.Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
By trading for Pau Gasol, the Los Angeles Lakers may have solidified themselves as one of the elite teams in the powerful Western Conference.
The former All-Star forward could make his Lakers debut as early as Sunday, when Los Angeles continues its longest road trip of the season with a matchup against the struggling Washington Wizards.
With center Andrew Bynum out until mid-March with a left knee injury, the Lakers (29-16) acquired the 7-foot Gasol from Memphis on Friday in exchange for underachieving forward Kwame Brown, rookie guard Javaris Crittenton and two first-round draft picks.
Gasol, a seven-year veteran who was an All-Star in 2005-06 and averaged 18.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 39 games for the Grizzlies this season, joins Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom in a formidable lineup -- one that will look all the more impressive when Bynum returns.
"It shows a great deal of commitment from the organization," said Bryant, who had 46 points on 19-for-28 shooting in the Lakers' 121-101 win at Toronto on Friday. "It's a great step.
"It's a matter of us just jelling now and putting it together. Now it's time to walk the walk."
Los Angeles is 3-5 since winning seven straight to open the new year and is in sixth place in the loaded West, where 10 of the 15 teams have winning records.
Gasol was scheduled to undergo a physical in Los Angeles on Saturday and could be ready for the Lakers' third stop on a nine-game trip Sunday, or Tuesday at New Jersey.
"We'd like him to play on Sunday," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said. "We need a little scoring inside without Andrew Bynum. It gives us a post-up threat right now, and he's a good passer. We like that."
Gasol's future teammates are also excited about the new addition.
"We don't want Pau to have any pressure on him when he comes in," said Odom, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds Friday. "We just want him to play his game any way he can. I'm pretty sure that will be easy for him.
"He's going to help us in every aspect. There's nothing he can't do."
The Lakers didn't need help Friday, getting the big night from Bryant and 22 points from Sasha Vujacic as they shot 55.6 percent and topped the 120-point mark for the second time in three games.
"We understood that this was a game that we had to get and we came out with a lot of energy," said Bryant, averaging 35.2 points on 52.5 percent shooting in his last six contests. "That being said, I think everybody is a little excited about the opportunity that we have in front of us."
Bryant had 39 points in the Lakers' 118-102 win at Washington on Feb. 3 in the teams' most recent meeting, as each club won on the other's home court in 2006-07. Bryant is averaging 39.0 points in his last four contests versus the Wizards.
Washington (24-21), second in the Southeast Division, lost 96-87 to Utah on Friday for its fourth defeat in six games.
All-Star forward Caron Butler missed his third consecutive game with a hip injury, but could return Sunday.
"Hopefully, he'll be ready to go on Sunday," Washington coach Eddie Jordan said of Butler, who's averaging a career-high 21.9 points along with 7.0 rebounds.
Antawn Jamison had 31 points Friday for Washington, which is averaging 98.7 points but shot 37.8 percent and was held below the 90-point mark for the second game in a row.
Jamison, who recorded his sixth game of 30 or more this season, missed the most recent matchup with the Lakers. He had 25 points and 13 boards in Washington's 147-141 overtime win at Los Angeles on Dec. 17, 2006.Copyright 2007 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited
(Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty Images)
SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers split each of the last two season series with Washington 1-1. This will be the 171st meeting between the two franchises with the Lakers leading the all-time series 107-63. Over the past 30 years, the Lakers have only lost two season series to Washington (1975-76; 1-3 and 2004-05; 0-2). The Lakers are 5-5 in their last 10 overall games with the Wizards and 5-5 in their last 10 meetings in Washington. Under head coach Phil Jackson, Los Angeles is 10-4 against Washington. In their most recent meeting in Washington, Kobe Bryant outscored Gilbert Arenas 39-37 in a Lakers 118-102 victory. Earlier last season, Gilbert Arenas and Kobe Bryant became only the seventh pair of opponents to put up 60-plus points and 45-plus points in the same game. In their two meetings last season, Gilbert Arenas and Kobe Bryant combined for 181 points scored. Bryant’s Los Angeles series record 55 points against Washington came against the Michael Jordan-led Wizards in March of 2003 at STAPLES Center. In 18 career games including 14 starts, Bryant is averaging 25.7 points against Washington. Wizards forward Caron Butler played the 2004-05 season with the Lakers, averaging 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.43 steals in 77 games. Additionally, Luke Walton and Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas played collegiately together at the University of Arizona. Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak was a member of the 1977-78 Washington Bullets NBA Championship team.
BRYANT PASSES BAYLOR FOR THIRD ALL-TIME WITH 89th 40-POINT GAME
DOUBLE-DOUBLES FOR EVERYONE… AGAIN