Wizards-Lakers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 21, 2013
The Los Angeles Lakers appear close to having their four stars together on the floor again. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol could both return from injuries as the Lakers try for an eighth straight home win Friday night against the Washington Wizards. Los Angeles coach Mike D'Antoni said Wednesday he hopes his two injured stars could play Friday. Bryant missed the last two games and three quarters of another after he sprained his ankle at Atlanta on March 13. Gasol, meanwhile, has sat the last 20 with a torn plantar fascia. Gasol, Bryant, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash have not played together since Jan. 30 for the Lakers (36-33), who have won 19 of 27 and currently own the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Those four and Metta World Peace have played just 17 games together and not made up the starting lineup since Jan. 20. "If our minds and hearts are into it, we can be a heck of a team and we can beat anybody," Gasol told the Lakers' official website. "We have too many guys who can put the ball in the hole for us to focus on one or two guys mainly. Once we share the ball and we really want to defend, get back in transition and limit our turnovers, we're a tough team." Regardless when Gasol returns, D'Antoni said the 7-footer would eventually start alongside Howard. Gasol begrudgingly came off the bench for seven games in January when D'Antoni felt he wasn't completely healthy. "There were a lot of decisions made when Steve Nash wasn't 100 percent on the floor, when Dwight Howard wasn't 100 percent, when Pau wasn't 100 percent," D'Antoni said. "When they're all 100 percent, it can work." Playing its ninth game in 14 days, Los Angeles ran out of gas during Monday's 99-76 loss at Phoenix. Nash scored 19 and Howard added 16 with 11 rebounds but the Lakers shot 33.3 percent - their second-lowest effort of the season - and committed 18 turnovers. "We just hit the wall,'' Nash said. "With some guys being injured, we've been playing a seven-man rotation and I think it caught up with us a little bit." Though Howard went 6 of 18 from the field, he's scored at least 16 points six times and averaged 15.1 boards while recording eight straight double-doubles. The Lakers have averaged 108.8 points and shot 49.0 percent during their longest home winning stretch since a 10-game run last season. Nash is averaging 18.0 points on 56.5 percent shooting in the last five at Staples Center. Los Angeles has won four straight at home and 10 of 11 overall against the Wizards (24-43). Bryant scored 30 in the Lakers' 102-96 win at Washington on Dec. 14. Point guard John Wall was still recovering from an offseason knee injury then, but the Wizards are 19-15 since his season debut. He had 19 points and eight assists as Washington held Phoenix to 33.7 percent shooting to win for the fourth time in five games, 88-79 on Wednesday. The Wizards have allowed fewer than 88 points in half of their last 10 contests. "Defensively, that's what we take our pride in," said Wall, who is averaging 23.3 points on 57.1 percent shooting and 9.5 assists over the last six games. "When we play defense, we feel we can beat anybody.'' Wall had 22 points and 14 assists in his only game against the Lakers at Staples, a 115-108 loss on Dec. 7, 2010. The Wizards could be without second-leading scorer Bradley Beal (13.9 points per game) after the rookie left Wednesday with a sprained ankle.
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Andre Johnson agrees to two-year deal with Titans

Redskins GM injures hand punching wall in frustration

Report: Aldon Smith checks into rehab

McCarthy discusses 'urgency’ to win another title with Rodgers

Report: Lions extend CB Darius Slay with $50 million deal


Adam Jones: Bengals dominated Steelers in playoff game

Robert Griffin III on QB battle: Only one of us runs 4.3

Gordon defends friendship with 'good friend' Manziel

Geno Smith ‘kind of pissed off’ about Ryan Fitzpatrick’s return

Bell admits he knew about missed drug test, lied to media

Report: Chargers rookie Joey Bosa to hold out of camp

Hockey team unveils Clinton, Trump bobbleheads

Bennett compares chemistry with Pats QBs to his love life

Crowell still making amends for controversial Instagram post

Report: LeBron urged Justin Bieber not to perform at RNC

Luck refutes Matt Hasselbeck’s assertion he never showers

Newspaper editor explains use of Jordan meme for MJ article

Five NFL teams set to underachieve in 2016

WATCH: Belichick gets annoyed by Jimmy Garoppolo question

Ronda Rousey denies being pregnant despite rumor

Eight most overpaid offensive players in NFL

Giants acquire All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins

Vikings QB injured trying to kick open door

NBA News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker