In a game that was advertised and depicted as a "desperate" Laker team in search of win, the Washington Wizards came out and gave the fans and television audience everything they had. Despite only three wins this season, the Wizards have been competitive in almost every game and even took down the defending champions at home for one of their three victories. This is also the same Wizards team who took down the Lakers here at the Verizon Center last season.
One key ingredient missing in this equation for the Wiz Kids is John Wall, who's mysterious injury seems to baffle all of us, most notably, Randy Wittman.
The first quarter didn't start off as something to write home about. The Wizards shot 40% on 6/15 shooting from the field, but it was a quarter marked and defined by the Wizards' mental mistakes. The inability to box out in the paint, letting Kobe Bryant dictate the game for the Wizards defense, and not to mention eight turnovers.
The inside game seemed to work very well for the Wizards as the game began. We saw Webster continue to be a threat as a starter and establish his presence very early in the game. Nene then came in off the bench and picked up where Webster left off. Both player had seven points in the opening quarter and seemed to have set the tone for the rest of the guys off the bench.
Cartier Martin comes in and sparks the team to an early 7-0 run to begin the second quarter. Yes, that same Cartier Martin who seems to only be allowed to play once every 8th game. That guy. However, maybe there's a reason why Cartier sees such limited time. For as well as he played in the first half, he missed nine of his last 10 shots and only finished with 21 points after leading all scorers with 15 going in to the half.
What started off, and turned in to an excellent first half of basketball for the Wizards quickly turned in to "that same old Wizards" third quarter as we saw the team falter down the stretch. The Wizards shot only 20% from the field and they allowed Jodie Meeks and Kobe Bryant put up 14 of the Lakers 25 points for the quarter.
Bottom line: The Wizards don't have the ability to trade baskets with the Lakers. I don't even think Jodie Meeks could ask for better looks in practice in comparison to what the Wizards did tonight. It even got to the point where it seemed like Kobe was making it a point of emphasis to get him the ball. Meeks finished with 24 points off the bench and continues to make the most of his opportunity. Something Jan Vesely knows nothing about.
As the Wizards entered the fourth quarter facing a 14 point deficit, they turned up the intensity. Washington stopped being careless and turning the ball over and pushed the rock up the court quickly to take advantage of the Laker transition defense. Quickly cue a Jordan Crawford "we-never-think-he's-gonna-make-it-but-always-does" 3-pointer, and all of a sudden, you have a three point game with five minutes left in the 4th quarter. The Lakers, for as badly as they may be playing right now, closed the game out the right way. They played great defense down the stretch, Kobe got everyone involved and they were able to patiently pull away from the Washington Wizards.