What a difference a day makes. After losing to the Philadelphia 76ers Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers escaped the Washington Wizards, who defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, with a four-point victory led by Kobe Bryant on Wednesday.
Bryant scored a season-high 31 points on 10 of 24 shooting in 36 minutes to lead the struggling Lakers to their first victory in eight games. It was quite surprising to witness Bryant perform the way he did on the second night of a back to back.
Just like in Philly, many Kobe fans followed the five-time champion to Verizon Center to watch him play in DC one final time, and Bryant did not disappoint.
As the Wizards went up 14-7 early in the first quarter, the Lakers responded quickly with a 13-0 run and seized control of the game, opening up an 18-point lead early in the second stanza.
The Wizards were suffocating themselves with turnovers, as they committed 12 miscues before the first half could even end. However, despite all the sloppy play, Washington found itself down just six at intermission.
It was a much tighter game in the second half, but once again the Wizards were doing the Lakers a huge favor by committing costly, live-ball giveaways, finishing the contest with 23 turnovers resulting into 33 points on the other side for L.A.
Down the stretch, the fans in DC witnessed vintage Kobe, as the 37-year-old hit two clutch buckets, a three-pointer to give the Lakers a two-point lead and another jumper to untie the game with 30 seconds remaining, to seal the game.
Bryant’s late-game heroics created a huge buzz in the building, as once again the 20-year veteran was hearing chants of his name echo through the rafters. Kobe departed with loud cheers and warm good-byes from the opposing team yet again.
“It felt really good to play the game in front of the fans and have that amount of appreciation and love. It really is a beautiful feeling,” Bryant said after the game. “I would hate to go into a building for the last time and not be able to perform.” (via Serena Winters)
Outside of Bryant, the Lakers had five others who were in double-figures scoring. Julius Randle notched yet another double-double, scoring 15 points and collecting a career-high 19 boards.
Jordan Clarkson concluded with 18 points, four rebounds, and three steals, while D’Angelo Russell put in 13 points, four rebounds, four steals, and three assists.
Off the bench, Lou Williams recorded 12 points, four assists, and seven steals, and Brandon Bass had his best game in a Lakers uniform, tying his season-high of 10 points to go with five rebounds.
The Lakers recorded a season-high 18 steals tonight, doing an excellent job of reading the passing lanes and being active for most of the game. With a plethora of steals, the Lakers were also able to play at a nice pace, getting points early in the shot clock.
Byron Scott altered his rotation again, placing Nick Young on the reserve list to cut his rotation down to nine. At least for this game, it worked in Coach Scott’s favor.
The Wizards were led by John Wall’s 34 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds, and two steals on 11 of 19 shooting, but his backcourt mate, Bradley Beal, was held quiet, scoring just 11 points.
The Wizards have had an up-and-down season, and this was probably their worst loss of the year. Turnovers haunted them all game long, and outside of Wall and Marcin Gortat, they did not receive much production from the others.
Due to the turnovers, the Wizards, who actually shot better than the Lakers, had 17 less shot attempts than Los Angeles which made a significant difference in the game.
The Lakers have ended their seven-game losing streak and their eight-game road losing streak with this win, improving to 3-15. They will receive the day off before playing the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, November 4, at Philips Arena.
The Wizards, who have dropped to 7-9, will return to action on Friday as well to face the Phoenix Suns at home.