WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP)–Straining to work out the kinks in an offense coach Mike D’Antoni compared to dancing with two left feet, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers even struggled to put away the Washington Wizards.
A night after joking about wanting to face the Washington Generals, the Harlem Globetrotters’ longtime foils, Bryant scored 30 points, and reserve Jodie Meeks added 24, helping the Lakers beat the Wizards 102-96 on Friday to end a four-game losing streak.
Slowed by foul trouble, Dwight Howard finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds, and the Lakers improved to 10-14.
Cartier Martin scored a season-high 21 points for Washington, which fell to an NBA-worst 3-17.
But the Wizards led by as many nine points in the first half and, after trailing by as many 16 in the second, closed to 92-89 on Nene’s free throws with 5½ minutes left in the game.
Los Angeles pulled away from there, despite D’Antoni’s less-than-flattering description before the game.
“Every good offense is a rhythm, and our rhythm is offbeat right now,” D’Antoni said. “It’s like we’ve got two left shoes, trying to dance.”
Playing on the second consecutive night, D’Antoni had his players do a film session and walkthrough at a ballroom at their hotel before facing Washington.
After his team’s 116-107 loss at the New York Knicks on Thursday night, Bryant opined: “At this point, I wish we had the Washington Generals on our schedule.”
Instead, they got the Wizards, who actually took a 41-32 lead on Martin’s three-point play with 7½ minutes left in the second quarter. That’s when Bryant, who’s dealing with a bad back, returned to the floor after resting for the start of the period. That’s also when Howard sat with three fouls.
The Lakers outscored the hosts 26-14 the rest of the half to lead 58-55 at the break.
Neither of these teams is whole at the moment.
The Lakers are still without Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, and Jordan Hill sat out Friday with back spasms. The Wizards have been without point guard John Wall, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, all season, and they’re also missing forwards Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker, along with point guard A.J. Price at the moment.
A pair of 10-0 runs by Los Angeles in the third quarter appeared to put the outcome beyond doubt.
The second spurt included eight consecutive points from Bryant, who hit a pair of free throws, a 12-foot step-back jumper — with 4 minutes left in the quarter, it was Bryant’s first field goal since the final 10 seconds of the opening period — a 17-foot pull-up jumper, and then a tap-in off an alley-oop pass that made it 78-64.
On that last play, Bryant got knocked to the court. He stayed down on the baseline for a few moments, then moved around gingerly for a bit.
He stayed in, however, and kept scoring.
With Washington within five and 4½ minutes left, Martell Webster was called for a foul on Bryant on a 3-point attempt, even though a replay appeared to show no contact.
Bryant made all three free throws, and the Lakers were on their way, awkward offense and all.
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman wasn’t happy with the officiating following the loss, “I thought there was some very questionable calls down the stretch…those things tend to go their [Lakers] way.”
But he also wasn’t happy with the Wizards shot selection in the final minutes.
“We had some questionable ones, no question.”
Wizards guard Cartier Martin had his best game of the season, putting in 21 on 7 of 16 shooting. But he knows they need to play better down the stretch.
“We played a good game. We got to make shots at the pivotal time. We got to play two halves of good basketball.”
The Wizards had their largest crowd of the season so far, 20,308, a sellout, but it was a very pro Lakers crowd. Wizards forward Martell Webster didn’t mind and fed off of it.
“I’m used to it, I’m used to it. Saw it in Minnesota, saw it in Portland,” Webster said. “They [Lakers fans] showed up, we fed off the energy. Feels good regardless, you got a packed house…I love the energy.”
Listen here to what Randy Wittman, Cartier Martin, Bradley Beal and Martell Webster had to say following the loss.
Randy Wittman Postgame Audio
Cartier Martin Postgame Audio
Bradley Beal Postgame Audio
Martell Webster Postgame Audio