Lakers-Wizards Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 14, 2012
Kobe Bryant would like to see the Los Angeles Lakers play the Washington Generals next. That won't happen but they will instead see the league's worst team that hails from the nation's capital. The struggling Lakers have been defenseless during a four-game losing streak heading into Friday night's road matchup with the Washington Wizards. The Lakers (9-14) fell 116-107 at New York on Thursday, allowing the Knicks to shoot 53.2 percent for the third-highest mark against them. They yielded 68 first-half points, and have given up an average of 62.3 during this slide. "We are having a re-occurring theme that the first quarter is just not good, and then the first half is not great and in the second half we seem to turn it on, and we need to solve that problem real quick," coach Mike D'Antoni said. Bryant scored 31 points and leads the NBA with 29.3 per game, but Los Angeles fell to 1-11 when he scores at least 30. The Lakers are trying to avoid their first five-game skid in two seasons. "At this point I wish we had the Washington Generals on our schedule,'' Bryant said. If the Lakers want to show improvement on defense, Friday presents an ideal opportunity. Washington (3-16) is last in the NBA in scoring at 90.4 points per game and field-goal percentage at 40.7. Los Angeles had won nine straight in this series before a 106-101 defeat in the lone meeting last season March 7. There's reason to believe that Dwight Howard, who had 20 points and seven boards Thursday, can turn in a monster effort. Howard is averaging 24.3 points on 73.4 percent shooting and 13.4 rebounds per game in his last nine against the Wizards - all victories when he played for Orlando. Lakers forward Pau Gasol has missed the past six games with tendinitis in his knees and remains day-to-day. Former Wizards captain Antawn Jamison has started five times in his place, and finished with three points Thursday. Los Angeles is 2-8 on the road while Washington owns the NBA's worst home mark at 2-7. Still, the Wizards have won three times since their 0-12 start and are eager to take advantage of the Lakers' woes. "Everybody knows they've been kind of struggling and we look forward to take advantage of that," Washington reserve guard Shaun Livingston said. "You got to come to play and we're at home and we tend to play well at home so hopefully we can come in with a lot of momentum." The Wizards fell 99-93 at Houston on Wednesday, although their backcourt of Jordan Crawford and rookie Bradley Beal combined for 37 points. There are signs that Crawford and Beal are gelling. Crawford is averaging 19.5 points over his last eight games while Beal is averaging 17.5 over his last four. "He is being more aggressive and that's the main thing," said Crawford about Beal. "He's not passing up as many shots as he was early and just being aggressive. We both have good size and we both kind of do the same thing, shooting and driving. We play off each other real well."
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