After an embarrassing showing for Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers last night, the team was right back at it against the Washington Wizards.
Morale is admittedly low in the Lakers locker room after a 2-15 start, but there have been some bright spots. The backcourt of Jordan Clarkson and D’Angelo Russell is starting to figure things out, but they would be in for a major challenge against one of the league’s best young tandems in John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Kobe Bryant would be in the starting lineup for the Lakers’ fourth game in five nights and after a rough showing last night, everyone would be watching to see how he would come out.
John Wall hit Bradley Beal for an easy lob to start the scoring, and after a floater from Jordan Clarkson, Wall would get a steal and a dunk to put the Wizards up 4-2. Russell hit a nice mid-range jumper, but the Lakers struggled with turnovers and transition defense and a layup from Wall gave Washington a 14-7 lead. The Lakers would respond with a 12-0 run led by multiple baskets from Kobe and Clarkson to take a 19-14 lead. The Lakers continued to play well in the quarter as Randle’s dominated the boards and got an easy layup on a pick-and-roll with Lou Williams. The Lakers couldn’t contain John Wall, however as had five early assists, but the Lakers remained ahead by four with two minutes remaining. Following a timeout the Lakers would go on a 10-0 run capped off by a three from Metta World Peace to give them a 34-20 lead and would end the quarter leading by 12, 34-22.
The Lakers got off to a slow start, but Kobe got them on the board with a classic fadeaway as they maintained a double-digit lead two minutes into the quarter. Brandon Bass then got going with back-to-back baskets including a fast break dunk on a gorgeous pass from Larry Nance Jr. that pushed the Lakers ahead by 15. Another gorgeous fadeaway from Kobe kept the Lakers ahead by 16. The Wizards began to fight back, however, cutting the lead down to 11 before a pair of Williams free throws ended the Wizards short spurt. Russell hit Randle with a beautiful pass on the fast break and World Peace hit a jumper as the Lakers lead increased to 17. The Wizards again began to climb back in the game, mainly at the free throw line, and trailed by only 13 with three minutes remaining in the half. A three from Kris Humphries cut the lead to 10 and Wall hit Gortat for an easy hook to bring Washington within single digits. A Humphries putback cut the Lakers lead to six 57-51 as the Wizards ended the half on a 17-4 run.
The Wizards got on the board first with a three from Bradley Beal, but Russell responded with a layup on the other end for the Lakers. A three from Jared Dudley and a transition layup from Otto Porter tied the game. A three from Wall gave Washington their first lead since the first quarter, but Clarkson put the Lakers right back ahead 63-62. After a Dudley three tied the game at 65, Randle led a 6-0 run for the Lakers to go up 71-65. The Wizards stayed right with the Lakers as Wall brought them within one, but Roy Hibbert got his first basket of the night to keep the Lakers ahead by three. Both teams battled down the stretch of the quarter, trading baskets as the Lakers would go into the fourth leading 78-75.
Two quick baskets for the Wizards gave them a one point lead early in the quarter. Bass got the Lakers on the board with a putback on a Kobe miss as the teams were tied at 80. Kobe got to the basket for a nice layup, but the Lakers couldn’t stop Washington on the other end as they pulled ahead by four, 86-82. Williams hit a three, but the Lakers got a delay of game technical foul so they remained down by two. A crazy sequence with multiple turnovers on both sides finally ended with a three from Kobe that made the Verizon Center explode as the Lakers went up 90-87. Wall would put the Wizards back ahead, but another Kobe jumper gave the Lakers a one-point lead with 3:30 remaining. John Wall continued to make things happen for the Wizards with back-to-back baskets, but Randle and Clarkson matched him as the Lakers held on to a 96-95 lead. Another pair of free throws from Clarkson put LA ahead 98-95 with 1:30 left. Four straight Wall free throws gave the Wizards a one point lead, but Kobe responded with a huge three to put the Lakers up by two. Gortat got a basket to tie the game, but Kobe hit another jumper to keep the Lakers up by two with 30 seconds left. The Wizards 23rd turnover of the night led to two free throws from Williams as the Lakers went up four. Some clutch free throws later and the Lakers snapped their seven-game losing streak with a 108-104 victory in Washington.