In game that was far closer than it should have been, the Lakers got 32 points from Kobe Bryant and beat the slumping Washington Wizards 115-108 at Staples Center on Tuesday night.
The game wasn’t exactly a walk in the park for the Lakers, although it looked like it would be for a while. They led 69-56 at halftime, and by the middle of the third quarter, had a 19-point lead.
But the Wizards chipped away late in the period, and cut the Lakers’ lead to 87-84 after three. They got no closer in the fourth, however, as the Lakers managed to make enough plays down the stretch for the 7-point victory.
Pau Gasol nearly had his second triple-double of the season. He wound up finishing with 21 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, and five blocked shots, in almost 43 minutes. It appears that whatever was wrong with Gasol’s hamstring seems to have improved over the last several days, as he showed no signs of injury on the court.
Lamar Odom also had a nice night with 24 points and seven rebounds. Shannon Brown added 12 off of the bench.
Former USC-star Nick Young scored 30 points off the bench in his return home to lead the Wizards. Gilbert Arenas played his first game against the Lakers in over three years, scoring 23 points. The last time he played at Staples, he scored 60 points in a 147-141 overtime win. That was also the last time the Wizards beat the Lakers, they have lost eight straight since.
Rookie John Wall was very impressive, scoring 22 points and dishing out 14 assists, as he showed his incredible speed and quickness in the open court scoring several dazzling layups.
The game certainly wasn’t a thing of beauty for the Lakers, as their field goal percentage plummeted in the second half, and they finished shooting just 44.9% from the floor for the game. They also struggled again from the three-point line, hitting just 7-25 (28.0%). They did outrebound the Wizards 45-34 including 22-9 on the offensive end. The Wizards also did turn the ball over 17 times, compared to only 13 for the Lakers.
While it may not have been the ideal way to go out before the upcoming six-game road trip, a victory is still a victory. And with everyone in the West playing so well right now, the Lakers can ill afford to falter against any more sub-.500 teams.
The Lakers’ next game is tomorrow night against the Clippers. And while the Lakers are technically considered the “road” team for the game, they really won’t hit the road until they play in Chicago on Friday. It will be the Lakers’ first look at Clipper rookie-sensation Blake Griffin.
The Lakers also hope to have Andrew Bynum back at some point on the road trip, as he completed his first full practice on Monday with the team, and experienced no pain or swelling in his knee. A good sign for a return soon.