Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/14/12
WASHINGTON -- After the scuffling Los Angeles Lakers lost their fourth consecutive game Thursday in New York, Kobe Bryant expressed a desire for an immediate matchup against the Washington Generals, the Harlem Globetrotters inept foil. For what ailed the Lakers, the Washington Wizards proved a worthy replacement. Bryant scored 30 points and Jodie Meeks had 24 as the Lakers snapped their four-game losing streak with a 102-96 victory over the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Dwight Howard totaled 12 points and 14 rebounds for the Lakers (10-14), who entered the day five games under .500 for the first time since the 2004-05 season. Up three at halftime, Los Angeles took control with a 20-9 third-quarter run, then made the plays starry veterans make after Washington pulled within three points in the fourth quarter. Continuing to play through back spasms and coming off a 44-minute outing against the Knicks, Bryant shot 9 of 28 from the field and made 1 of 8 3-point field goals. However the perennial All-Star made 11 of 13 free throws while grabbing seven rebounds and doling out a team-high seven assists during a 44-minute night. "It's been a minute, but it feels good," Bryant said after the win, which also ended four-game road skid. Bryant's feed set up Meeks' 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter gave the Lakers their largest lead at 88-72. After a 17-4 run pulled the Wizards (3-17) to 92-89 with 5:31 remaining, Bryant and Howard combined for the Lakers' final 10 points, though the team shot 30 percent from the field in the final quarter. "The minimum that we could do, but we did it," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We won one. Now we've got to turn it into two." Cartier Martin scored 15 of his season-high 21 points in the second quarter and Martell Webster had 17 points for the Wizards. Washington, losers of two in a row, fought back as Nene and Webster combined for 12 points during the late 17-4 run. Nene also scored 17 points and his free throws made the score 92-89 with 5:31 remaining, but the Wizards would get no closer. Bryant made four of five free throws inside the final five minutes, three coming after a questionable call against Webster beyond the 3-point arc. For his final act before the sellout crowd of 20,308, Bryant raced in to somehow tip-in Howard's missed free throw with 1:21 left, giving the Lakers a 102-93 lead. "I told Steve (Nash) all night, I'm missing easy shots. I have no idea how that went in. No clue," Bryant said. After facing the Knicks on Thursday, the Lakers did not arrive to their hotel in Washington until after 3 a.m. That meant no morning shoot-around, just a film session and a spin around the hotel ballroom, rather an appropriate setting based on coach Mike D'Antoni described his team's recent offense. "Our rhythm is offbeat right now," D'Antoni said before the game. "It's like we have two left shoes trying to dance. It's hurting our defense. It's hurting our overall spirit." The Lakers found the beat they could dance to in the first half, shooting 53.8 percent. Leading 58-55 starting the third quarter, Los Angeles surrendered a 3-pointer to Webster before surging ahead with a 10-0 run. After the Wizards countered with six unanswered points, the Lakers answered with another 10-0 run, the final eight points from Bryant. With the Wizards focusing on Bryant and Howard, the ball often an open Meeks. The guard drilled 4 of 7 from beyond the arc. "When you have two great players like they have there, you're going to have to give some things up and Meeks hurt us," Wittman said. "He stepped up to the opportunity. Down 21-13 late in the first quarter, the Wizards overcame nine early turnovers and stormed ahead 41-32 midway through the second on the strength of Martin's unconscious shooting. Perfect on his first five field goal attempts, he drained three from beyond the arc and also converted a mid-range floater. Drawing Howard's third foul of the half with 7:36 remaining, Martin's free throw capped the 28-11 run.From there, a different story as Martin missed nine of his final 11 shots. Bryant also missed plenty. Washington's defenders stepped up enough to force the Lakers star into barely averaged a point per shot. Ultimately that was still enough. "The goal against a high-caliber player like that who gets a lot of repetitions up is to contain him and hope that he takes a contested jump shot," Webster said. "He didn't score 30,000 points for nothing." NOTES: Wizards guard John Wall, who has yet to play this season because of a left knee injury, met with Dr. David Altchek. In a statement released by the team, Altchek said Wall "showed improvement in his stress injury that will allow him to begin ramping up his activity level." Before the game, Wittman noted that Wall would begin no-contact drills in a few days following a lubricating injection administered by Altchek on Friday. As for when the third-year guard might return to the team, Wittman said, "I have no idea. ... I wish I could give you that. It would help my mind." ... Lakers center Pau Gasol missed his seventh consecutive game with knee tendinitis. Los Angeles is 2-5 without him. ... Lakers forward Jordan Hill sat out with back spasms. ... U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder attended the game.
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