The Los Angeles Lakers welcomed John Wall and the Washington Wizards to the Staples Center; this was the first time the defending champions got to see Wall perform. The Lakers will go on a seven-game road trip after tonight’s game, so it was important for them to head-out on the right foot. The Lakers won their previous game after losing four-straight, and they looked to gain momentum before hitting the road.
The Lakers opened up the game hitting their first four shots, and they were playing aggressive defense on the other end of the court. The team was providing great help defense, and was forcing the Wizards to take tough contested shots. The Lakers started off playing great basketball, something they did not do during their four-game losing streak. Five minutes into the game the Lakers opened up six-point lead, 17-11.
The Lakers continued their stellar play in the latter half of the quarter, their offensive execution was perfect and their passes were all on-target. The Wizards had no answers for the Lakers; the Lakers would drive into the lane with no challenge and would get to the free-throw line at will. The opening quarter concluded with the Lakers up by 13, 36-23. The team’s leading scorer was Lamar Odom with 13 followed by Kobe Bryant with 8. The Lakers forced the Wizards to shoot 9-21 from the field, while they shot 15-27.
The Lakers opened up the quarter with the “Killer Bs” on the floor, and they quickly added on to the lead. Two minutes into the quarter, Steve Blake hit two consecutive threes and he helped the Lakers expand their lead to 14.
As the game progressed, a different style of play began to emerge. The teams were running up-and-down the court and they were settling for quick fast-break buckets. However, the style of play was hurting the Lakers and they let the Wizards crawl back into the game. The 15-point lead was eventually cut down to six with about 6:00 left in the half.
After Phil Jackson called a desperation time-out, his team quickly regained their focus and momentum shifted their way. The Lakers started to control the game’s pace, and they were forcing their will in the paint. They were highly efficient on the offensive end, and their stellar play led to a 69-point first half. The Lakers headed into the locker room with a 69-56 lead, with Kobe leading the way with 18 points.
The Lakers started the second half playing efficient basketball and they were ready to pull away from the Wizards. The Lakers executed their plays perfectly, and were on-point for all of their passes. Just four minutes into the third quarter, the Lakers expanded their lead to 17, 80-63.
The Lakers had an answer for the Wizards’ every run and they made sure the game would be sealed by the time the quarter ended. However the Lakers missed many opportunities and they let the Wizards climb right back into the game. A double-digit lead mid-way into the third quarter quickly vanished and the Wizards found themselves within striking distance. The Lakers had a mere three-point lead, 87-84, heading into the final period.
Kobe Bryant started the fourth quarter on the bench in order to prepare himself for a nail-biting finish. However, the bench came into the game and provided the Lakers with a much needed spark. With 9:07 left in the game, the Lakers had a ten point lead 97-87.
The Lakers and Wizards began to trade baskets, and neither team was able to put together a significant run. The Lakers were holding on to a nine point lead with about 3:55 left in the game, 108-99.
Despite the Lakers’ ill-advised shots late in the game, they still came out victorious. The final buzzer rang and the Lakers were on top, 115-108. The Lakers shot 45% from the field and their leading scorer was Kobe Bryant with 32 points.
The Lakers have improved to 15-6 and will now begin their road trip tomorrow vs. the Clippers.