Game Preview: Lakers at Celtics
The Los Angeles Lakers struggled around the rim in a failed attempt to extend their winning streak on the second stop of their road trip.
They could be in for a respite in the paint when they conclude the three-game trek Friday night against the Boston Celtics, who own one of the league's weakest interior defenses.
The Lakers (5-14) were in good shape after one quarter Wednesday in Washington, leading 33-27 in their bid for a third straight victory, but they were outscored 84-62 the rest of the way in a 111-95 loss.
Kobe Bryant mirrored his team's late fade, scoring 20 first-half points on 8-of-15 shooting before being held to nine points in the second half while going 0 for 7. He's shooting 44.0 percent in the first half compared to 34.2 in the second.
Nick Young scored a season-high 21 but Jeremy Lin was scoreless on 0-for-10 shooting.
"I thought that (Washington) just got a little bit more aggressive," coach Byron Scott told the team's official website. "Their intensity level went up it seems like each quarter. That being said, with a minute and a half left (in the game), we're still right there.
"So we just need more guys to join the party. That's the bottom line. We don't have the luxury of having two or three guys not having good games on a night like this playing against a team like this."
Los Angeles hit a season-high 12 3-pointers on 29 attempts but shot 37.5 percent from inside the arc. The Lakers were outrebounded 53-43, their worst margin since giving up an 11-rebound edge in an opening-night loss to Houston, and scored 20 points in the paint for their fewest since recording 18 in a win at Houston on Nov. 14, 2007.
"It's probably a combination of both (playing) a young, fast team and us coming off a back-to-back," Bryant said. "You saw a lot of our shots going short right there at the lip of the rim. We had some great opportunities. We just weren't able to capitalize."
Los Angeles could find itself with some easier opportunities inside against Boston, which allows a league-worst 49.6 points in the paint per game.
The Celtics (5-11) gave up 56 points in the paint Wednesday against Detroit but won 109-102 in overtime to snap a five-game losing streak and six-game home skid. They blew a nine-point lead with 54 seconds left but held on a night after squandering a 23-point advantage in a 109-105 loss at Atlanta.
Jeff Green scored 32 points and hit a season-high six 3-pointers.
"I'm excited for the guys that they gutted one out when it kind of teeter-tottered toward not going their way," coach Brad Stevens said. "We needed to respond. I'm not going to overreact, though.
We've only done it once."
Boston won despite shooting 39.8 percent, though it held the Pistons to 36.3 percent.
The Lakers have won six of seven in the series and seven of nine in Boston. Bryant is averaging 28.8 points over his last 13 regular-season trips there, shooting 51.8 percent in the past three.
Los Angeles is 4-1 against the Eastern Conference while the Celtics are 0-7 against the West.