Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Friday evening contest at Washington against the Wizards, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:
Lakers: Duhon, Bryant, World Peace, Ebanks* and Howard
Wizards: J. Crawford, B. Beal, M. Webster, C. Singleton, E. Okafor
*In addition to Pau Gasol being out with knee tendinitis, reserve big Jordan Hill would miss the game with back spasms unrelated to the herniated disc he suffered in preseason.
6:45 An early 10-0 LAL run featured back-to-back triples from Kobe Bryant and Chris Duhon, then consecutive alley-oops to Dwight Howard and then Devin Ebanks producing a 15-6 lead. This stood in stark contrast to LAL’s starts at both Cleveland and New York in the previous two losses.
0:07.0 The Lakers controlled much of the quarter, but got sloppy in the final two minutes only to see their 9-point lead whittled down to zero, at least until a hanging jumper from Bryant made it 27-25 heading into the second. The late miscues included a wide-open layup miss from Jodie Meeks – who appeared unsure of whether to dunk or lay it in – and Bryant turnover, allowing a quick 7-0 Washington spurt. The Lakers had lost five of six games without Pau Gasol, and could ill afford yet another one.
10:04 With L.A. again getting outrun for a stretch – allowing an 8-0 Wizards run to start the second – Meeks gave the kind of effort Mike D’Antoni’s been asking for, grabbing his own miss and sticking it back. Yet Washington led 33-30, and was playing with confidence as seemingly every Lakers opponent has in the past several games.
7:36 Things got quickly worse, a Wizards push allowing a sudden 9-point lead when Cartier Martin – not the most well-known name in the NBA – had reached 15 points himself, hitting all three of his triples and converting an and-1 in the paint that also happened to be Howard’s third foul (he couldn’t have agreed any less with the foul, as he specifically stepped to the side to avoid a foul). L.A. got buckets from Robert Sacre and Devin Ebanks to cut the lead back to four, but nonetheless, the negative vibe on the court continued from recent games.
0:00 With the Lakers needing energy more than anything else, it was Sacre, Darius Morris and Meeks who sparked a run that first tied the game, then allowed a lead on an MWP and-1 at 56-53. Meeks had eight straight of his 14 total points during the run, while Morris hit both of his shots from the perimeter and had a hockey assist on a Meeks triple. In the seven minutes without Howard, L.A. outscored the Washington by 12.
8:43 The Lakers played well in the opening minutes of the half, responding with energy on both ends to build their lead to 10 at 68-58, with World Peace scoring back-to-back hoops and Howard protecting the rim on the other end.
3:49 After a 6-0 Wizards run occurred during a 3+ minute Lakers scoring drought, Bryant capped off an 8-0 run of the purple and gold’s own to push the lead to 12 at 76-64. The fifth and sixth Bryant field goals came in 18 attempts, but he’d added seven foul shots and was a game-best +23 on the evening. After three, the lead was 14 at 83-79, L.A. finally in good shape into a final period. The D was key in the third, Washington managing only 14 points in the period.
11:16 Make that 88-72, with two more buckets from Meeks, who’d made 9 of his 13 shots (four of six triples) to reach 24 points, two more than Bryant. However, after getting up by 16, the Wizards suddenly reeled off a 9-0 run to cut the lead down to just seven with a healthy 9:20 to play.
5:31 The lead was down to just four after two Nene free throws, but Howard responded with a jump hook and Bryant drew a foul while shooting a triple, hitting all three to put L.A. up 97-89, a bit of breathing room yet again.
2:00 Howard was having a slow night with only 11 points and 11 rebounds, but he was protecting the rim, affecting a driving Cartier Martin to secure a late stop. Howard then grabbed Kobe’s miss on the next trip down, earning two foul shots with 1:22 left. He hit the first … and then out of nowhere, Bryant flew in and tipped home second with his left hand, allowing a 102-93 lead that essentially ended the game. Kobe had another 30-point game in the process. Even with L.A.’s offense stalling, 19 points being scored in the fourth quarter, that decisive third period was enough to secure a 102-96 victory, snapping a four-game losing streak in the process.
Bryant had 30 points with his game-high seven dimes, Meeks 24 points with five boards and three steals, Howard 14 rebounds and four blocks in the victory. Up next: Sunday’s contest at Philly. We’ll see you there.