Friday night against the Sacramento Kings the Los Angeles Lakers (14-6) responded well ending their four game skid convincingly winning by a margin of thirty three points. While working to duplicate their performance at home against the visiting Washington Wizards (6-13), a team searching for their first road win (currently 0-10, tied with the Clippers for worst road record). This will be the Lakers last home game for the next two weeks, after this they begin a seven game road trip.
This is the Lakers first look at this years number one over all draft pick John Wall, a leading candidate for rookie of the year, trying to help his team beat LA, something the Wizards haven’t done since December 17, 2006.
Kobe and the Lakers came out with an high level of intensity, as Bryant led off with a long two over the outstretched arms of Al Thornton, on the defensive end he keyed in on what worked in the Sacramento end as his intensity help get off to a 10-2 start.
Kobe showed some excellent footwork on both ends early, defensively he was in position for a few steals as he played the passing lane well tipping a few balls in process. On the offensive side he had an amazing step thru lay up after a great pump fake for an easy basket. He mesmerized the defense with the change of pace, making a complex move look easy.
Bryant seemed to have great bounce in his step as he took Gilbert Arenas baseline off a nice cross over and then hit a cutting Gasol with a no look pass off the dribble.
The Lakers affected the Wizards zone with quick passes and great rebounding; they seemed to find the gaps and lanes to the basket. Did a great job moving against the zone, as Washington is one of the first teams to play it primarily the entire game. The two three match up zone wasn’t effective because of the movement with out the ball; a lot of unselfish play is what lead to 22 assists on 26 baskets at halftime. It also helped the halftime comparison of points in the paint 40-12 Lakers.
Bryant had some spectacular shots in this game, using an array of step back jumpers, beat multiple defenders with great footwork, and showed why he is second in the league in scoring at 26.7, with some beautiful moves to the basket, along with tough finishes in the lane.
He also had a few great assists, converting on a few no look passes leading to easy lay ups for Gasol and Odom. One of them on a fast break one-dribble touch pass, where he sprinted ahead received the ball and instantly dished it to Gasol for the dunk, it was beautiful and showed the speed he still possess.
Kobe and the Lakers held off a late surge from Wall and Washington as he tried his hardest for the win with 22 pts, 14 asts, 5 reb, 3 blks, a great line but at the end just wasn’t enough. This is the Lakers second win in a row and looking at their up coming schedule, combined with the potential return of center Andrew Bynum, the Lakers could potentially rattle off ten in a row before taking their talents to south beach for a Christmas day rematch with the Miami Heat.
Bryant finished with 32 points and had great showing from Gasol 21pts, 14 reb and Odem 24pts, 7 reb. When Kobe’s surrounding cast plays well, the Lakers are one of the if not the most dominant team in the league.