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Furthermore, you'll learn that no one hands out wins just for trying hard. If you've followed this team for longer than a week, you are already well aware of these facts, but they are worth repeating every once in a while.
"If you take away the second quarter, things would have been easier," Jamison added. "That’s why the game is 48 minutes. They took advantage of our mistakes and we weren’t able to come back. That team continues to stay poised." Indeed the 60-44 half-time deficit proved to be too much for the Wizards to overcome against a Lakers team that is extremely disruptive on defense. The Lakers are excellent at playing the passing lanes and creating deflections.
No one will fault the Wizards for losing to Los Angeles' main NBA attraction. The Wizards in fact played the Lakers to a virtual draw, except for the second quarter. That's when they were outscored 30-15. "We knew what we had, what we were in store for tonight," said Antawn Jamison, who had a game-high 27 points on 11-for-22 shooting along with nine rebounds. "But the thing about it, you've got to bring that same kind of energy, that same type of aggressiveness every night. And for some reason, as a team, we can't even find a way to do it.
It’s great the Wizards showed some heart and hustle against the Lakers, be proud of such moral victories if you would like. Me? I’ll just shrug my shoulders because no one knows what Wizards team we will see next (although a 14-30 record is a fair indicator). They could very well go up to New Jersey on Friday and give the Nets their fourth win of the season (or fifth, NJ plays the Clippers at home on Wednesday).
Flip Saunders said after the game that if the Wizards had played as hard in the last few games as they did against L.A. they would have had a good home stand (2-4). Their effort against the World Champs wasn’t enough. The Wizards shot 51.2% and outrebounded L.A. by nine but still never got close after the first quarter. In the second period the Lakers went on a 20-7 run to end the half. In that stretch they forced six turnovers, threw down an alley-oop, got a tip dunk off a free throw miss, and hit a three pointer to end the half.
Bryant and Pau Gasol led the Lakers with 26 points apiece. Bryant, who has been slumping of late while playing with a broken right index finger, excited an incredibly pro-Lakers crowd with every made basket. He also heard chants of "MVP! MVP!" nearly every time he stepped to the foul line. When asked if he had ever received so much love on the road, Bryant smiled and said: "Not to toot my own horn, but 'Beep! Beep!' "
Antawn Jamison, playing on a sprained right foot, scored 27 points to lead the Wizards, who lost the last four games of a six-game homestand. The game came one day after guard Javaris Crittenton received probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge, the latest fallout from last month’s locker room confrontation between Crittenton and Gilbert Arenas. "I think we’re all pretty much numb to the whole thing right now," coach Flip Saunders said.
Despite their 14-30 record the Wizards have played the NBA’s elite tough all season, including wins against Cleveland and Orlando. All signs pointed to another potential upset, but the Wizards good omen wouldn’t last. Down one with less than five seconds left in the first Bryant ignited the crowd with a sweet pull up jumper giving the Lakers a 30-29 lead. The Lakers actually did most of their damage with number 24 sitting out half of the second quarter. But every Batman needs and Robin and while Bryant was on the bench Shannon Brown filled the role of coming attraction. He used the second quarter as tune up for the slam-dunk contest at next month’s All-star weekend. His preview included an alley-oop, monster dunk on the fast break, and a backbreaking tip dunk all while Bryant sat on the bench.
The Wiz are a crap team, but they have a couple guys who can score. For one quarter at least, that kept them in the game. Both they and the Lakers were sniping in the first as they traded unchallenged looks. Kobe Bryant began the night in facilitation mode. Sometimes he passed himself into turnovers, but he did a top-notch job of getting both the bigs and the outside shooters into a flow. In the second the Lake Show turned up the volume on D. Credit the bench: Shannon Brown and Sasha Vujacic were alert and active while Lamar Odom worked the glass. They held Washington to 0.63 PPP (points per possession) for the quarter, and although the defense was pretty awful for the rest of the night, that burst of energy was all the Lakers would need.