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Gortat and Humphries help Wizards dominate the paint in victory over Lakers

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Purple and gold jerseys may have filled the crowd on Wednesday night, but the blue jerseys (especially Kris Humprhies and Marcin Gortat's) controlled the paint on both ends in the Wizards' 111-95 victory over the Lakers.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Marcin Gortat was pretty succinct when I asked him post game about what the Lakers did - rather did not do - defensively that allowed the Wizards to dominate the paint against the Los Angeles Lakers in Wednesday's matchup.

"There was no defense. We just played our game, they let us do a lot of different things," he replied, before describing the ways the Wizards dismantled the Lakers defense on the way to tying their season high with 111 points.

"I can't tell you anything about their defense, they didn't stop anything. We were just rolling down. We scored 111 points, we were rolling down, and scoring, dunking making shots, running in transition and they didn't get back," he added.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the Wizards' final sequence to close out their third consecutive victory. Los Angeles had cut the lead to four, 97-93 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter on a pair of Kobe Bryant free throws. It seemed as if the Wizards would once again stumble to the finish line against an inferior basketball team. A crowd mixed with purple and yellow jerseys was ready to see its hero bring it to one more victory in the nation's capital.

But then, as has happened so many times this season, the Lakers defense couldn't keep up.

John Wall hit an open foul line jumper to give the Wizards some cushion, which was followed by a Kobe misfire on contested three pointer that led to a Bradley Beal rebound. That's when the fun began.

The Wizards rushed the ball down the court, and the Lakers were unable - or unwilling - to run with them. John Wall hit Gortat for an emphatic dunk, then a Kris Humphries steal led to a Beal dish to a Rasual Butler slam on the other end.

By the time Wall had capped the night with a pull up banked three pointer right in the face of Kobe, the Wizards had outscored the Lakers 14-2 in the final two minutes for a decisive 16 point win - but the tone of the game was set early on.

Throughout the night, the Wizards consistently attacked the Lakers inside, outscoring the Lakers 56-20 in the paint, while also keeping one of the NBA's best offensive rebounding teams off the boards.

The ease with which Gortat and Beal got to the rim provided the Wizards with the offense they needed to keep up with the early hot shooting of Kobe and Lakers guard Nick Young. Gortat took nearly all of his shots directly around the basket, continuing the improved and aggressive play that he has shown on this recent home stretch.

The reason for Gortat's improved offensive plays, according to Wizards Coach Randy Wittman: "Gortat has decided to take the ball to the basket instead of taking jump shots. That's the main focus on Marcin, his aggression. You look at what he scored tonight, what, 21, how many of those were at the rim?"

With the exception of a short jump hook, all of Gortat's made shots came on dunks or layups.

Meanwhile, his frontcourt mate, Kris Humphries, was doing the dirty work cleaning up the glass, collecting a career high 20 rebounds in under 30 minutes.

Whenever there was a chance to grab a 50-50 ball, deflect a pass or come up with a loose ball, Humprhries there. The Wizards may have missed Nene's defense and toughness during his injury, but Humprhries has demonstrated his ability to be a more than adequate substitute.

"You know I'm glad that me and him dominate the paint and we just try to cover for each other," Gortat said after the game. "I was going today a bit more and he was getting those rebounds [...] His basketball IQ is really high so it's always fun to play with a guy who knows the game and plays the game the right way."

If the Wizards can keep playing the right way, Gortat thinks they can do more than win just basketball games.

"Hopefully next year we'll change the jerseys from yellow to blue, the lucky blue," Gortat said.

For the fans in yellow and purple on Wednesday night, their idol displayed his incredible skill set that has made him a legend. Kobe got his 29 points, giving the Lakers fans in the crowd a great story to tell their families when they go home to California for Christmas.

For the Wizards faithful, they'll happily take the W.