Lakers Gameday | 12/05/08 | Lakers 106, Wizards 104
Western Conference Standing : 1
Streak: Won 2
Eastern Conference Standing : 15
Streak: Lost 2
|Injury Report||Injury Report|
---Francisco Gomez, Lakers.com
|Los Angeles Lakers||Washington Wizards|
Bryant, Lakers barely beat Wizards 106-104
WASHINGTON(AP) On a poor shooting night, Kobe Bryant came through when the Los Angeles Lakers needed him the most. And then he nearly blew it about 10 seconds later.
Bryant banked in a running 12-foot jumper over Caron Butler with 25 seconds left Friday night, then went 1-for-2 on foul shots 10 seconds later, but the best-in-the-West Lakers eked out a 106-104 victory over the worst-in-the-East Washington Wizards.
After Bryant's miss at the line - he made all 13 other free throws he took - Butler had a chance to win it for Washington, but missed a 3-point attempt shortly before the buzzer.
Bryant was 5-for-17 from the field and finished with 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. Butler led the Wizards with 26 points.
Treated again to "M-V-P!'' chants on the road, Bryant was resting on the sideline for much of the fourth quarter as his team allowed what was once a 20-point lead to dwindle.
And dwindle. And dwindle. With Butler leading the charge.
His jumper with about 4 minutes left capped a 12-0 run that pulled the Wizards within 99-92. Later, Butler assisted on Andray Blatche's dunk that made it 103-98 with just under 2 minutes left. Butler's two free throws got Washington to 103-100 a half-minute later, and his 9-foot pull-up jumper made it a one-point game.
But that's when Bryant responded by sinking his lone field goal of the fourth quarter, then skipping to the Lakers' sideline at the ensuing timeout. Blatche's tip-in got Washington back within a point, and Bryant was immediately fouled.
Bryant had plenty of help. Andrew Bynum delivered a season-high 19 points, along with 10 rebounds, and Pau Gasol had 17 points and 10 rebounds - part of a half-dozen Lakers who scored in double figures.
Blatche had 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Antawn Jamison added 14 points and 12 rebounds.
While the Lakers improved to 16-2, the Wizards fell to 3-14 for the first time since the 1966-67 season, when they were known as the Baltimore Bullets.
Notes: Lakers coach Phil Jackson said four of his players - Bryant, Lamar Odom, Jordan Farmar, Trevor Ariza - have a competition going to see who can accumulate the most steals this season. Jackson isn't necessarily thrilled, noting that Bryant sometimes "comes away empty-handed, which compromises our defense.'' ... Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott avoided a direct answer to a question about when PG Gilbert Arenas (left knee surgery) might return to action. "He seems to be doing well. He's in each day. We chat. We're getting together,'' Tapscott said. "When the time is right to write the script for his return, to put together a plan; we're not at that point.'' ... The Wizards wore throwback jerseys from the 1962-63 Chicago Zephyrs; that was the franchise's last season in that city before moving to Baltimore. Player reviews were mixed. ... Tapscott spoke pregame about how a game's outcome often depends simply on which team has a player who happens to be on a roll that particular day. "I constantly use this mantra: It's not plays that win games, it's players,'' Tapscott said. "It's not Xs-and-Os, it's Jimmy-and-Joes.''
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Lakers - Wizards Preview
A last-second shot has provided the only bump in the road of late for the Los Angeles Lakers.
It's doubtful the Washington Wizards will provide another Friday at the Verizon Center.
The Lakers (15-2) come into this game having won eight of their last nine. The only loss in that span came Tuesday at Indiana when the Pacers' Troy Murphy hit a tip-in at the buzzer to hand Los Angeles a 118-117 defeat.
The Lakers rebounded Wednesday with a 114-102 win in Philadelphia as Kobe Bryant scored 32 against his hometown team and Pau Gasol had 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Bryant has averaged 29.5 points in the last four games to move to fourth in the NBA in scoring (25.1). He has also hit 55.6 percent of his shots from the field in that time, including a 12-for-20 performance against the 76ers.
"If Kobe shoots the ball that well, we're going to have a good winning percentage because he's going to take most of the shots," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
Like Bryant, Andrew Bynum has also increased his scoring and field goal percentage over the last four games. Bynum has averaged 17.8 points in that span and shot 60.0 percent from the field. He scored 18 against Philadelphia, hitting seven of his 11 shots.
After Wednesday's game, Bynum moved to 12th in the league in field goal percentage at 54.8 percent, two spots behind Gasol's 55.6.
It was Gasol's third straight game with 20 or more points, but his first with double-digit rebounds since Nov. 14.
Bryant now gets a chance to face the Wizards (3-13), a team he's recently tormented. The future Hall of Famer has averaged 35.3 points, shot 50.0 percent from the field and 45.5 from 3-point range in the last six meetings.
The Lakers have allowed opponents to score 102.4 points per game in their last 10, but that hasn't proved a problem because Los Angeles has averaged 111.5.
Washington isn't one of the better scoring teams in the league. The Wizards took a two-point lead in the fourth quarter Wednesday against visiting Portland, but couldn't hold on in a 98-92 loss, their third defeat in the last four games.
"Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, you know?" Wizards interim coach Ed Tapscott said. "So we've got to close the deal."
Antawn Jamison led Washington with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting Wednesday and has led the team over the past seven games with 24.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 55.2 percent shooting from the field.
Jamison, who tops the Wizards with 9.3 rebounds per game, has not shined in recent meetings with the Lakers. In the last nine games, Jamison has scored 16.2 points, shot 41.0 percent from the field and grabbed 7.3 rebounds.
Former Laker Caron Butler leads the Wizards in scoring at 21.3 points per game, but hasn't fared well against his former team lately. Butler has shot 32.0 percent from the field in the last three meetings and averaged 15.7 points.
The Lakers have won three straight over Washington but have split the last six meetings at the Verizon Center.
NOTES & CONNECTIONS
The Lakers swept last season’s series with Washington 2-0 after splitting each of the previous two season series with the Wizards 1-1. This will be the 173rd meeting between the two franchises with the Lakers leading the all-time series 109-63. 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 6-4 in their last 10 games with the Wizards overall and are and 5-5 in their last 10 meetings with the Wizards in Washington. At STAPLES Center, the Lakers are 7-2 all-time against the Wizards and 8-2 in their last 10 home games against Washington overall. Under head coach Phil Jackson, Los Angeles is 12-4 against Washington. On December 17, 2006 at STAPLES Center, 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 that game, Arenas became just the 8th player to score 60+ points against the Lakers while establishing a series record for points. 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 20 career games including 16 starts, Bryant is averaging 25.9 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.
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