Lakers 102, Wizards 96: Dec. 14 Running Diary

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:

Starters
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.

FIRST QUARTER
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.

SECOND QUARTER
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.

THIRD QUARTER
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.

FOURTH QUARTER
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.