Live from Staples- Lakers vs. Wizards
For one night at least, one in a row sounds a lot better than three in a row. Vlad Rad, LO (still sick, but still playing), Kobe, Fish, and Turiaf start for L.A.
BK with the first.
First trip down, Lakers get the ball in deep, but Turiaf is blocked at the basket by Haywood. Next trip, LO posts up, they work the ball around, and then the ball is kicked out to Fish on the perimeter for the three. That's the sort of trey they should take. Inside out.
9:00- Again, the Lakers shoot a three, but again, it comes in rhythm and after the ball had been pitched in, this time to Kobe in the post. Kobe goes to Turiaf at the top of the key, who makes the extra pass to Vlad for a wide open three. On the trip before, the Lakers generated a jumper from the elbow, which Lamar made. Good ball movement early. They're not attacking the rim, but they're not settling either.
8:16- 10-7 LAL.
7:15- Great offensive rebound from Ronny, but he doesn't take the ball back up. Jamison and Haywood were there, but he probably could have, at worst, drawn a foul. He's very active tonight, but can't forget to stay aggressive around the hole when it's time to shoot. He's not a post guy er se, but he needs to play one on TV.
6:34- Fish hits a three off Kobe penetration, and the Lakers are up 15-8. They're shooting at a very high percentage right now, in part because they're getting excellent looks.
Timeout on the floor, 5:35 left in the first. Lakers up 15-14 after consecutive threes. On the second, it looked like Kobe left DeShawn Stevenson, and on the trip previous, Roger Mason Jr. found himself open for a triple. Washington has plenty of gunners, so the Lakers, as usual, need to make sure they close on shooters.
Stevenson, then Butler hit threes in front of Radmanovic, and the Wizards are up 20-16. On the Butler three, the Lakers had done a great job forcing Washington to run down the clock, then Butler drilled the shot at the buzzer right in front of Rad.... who then chucks an airball on the other end.
Not a great sequence.
3:41- 22-16 Washington. They're 5-6 from downtown.
3:26- Rad redeems himself, hitting a two from the corner, except he was about an inch and a half from the three point line. That always frustrates coaches. But whatever. I'm not gonna get too critical of a guy when he makes a shot.
Farmar in for Fish out of the TO, and Vlad hits a three to bring the Lakers back to within two, 23-21.
1:34- Good sequence, as the Lakers work the ball to Turiaf on the wing, who hits odom in the high post, and LO draws the foul on Butler underneath. He hits the FTs, and the Lakers are up by one.
Walton and Sasha in.
:22- Good play by Farmar. Pump fakes on the three pointer, then takes a few dribbles towards the lane, draws the double, and then kicks to Sasha in the three out of the left corner.
Ugh. Washington finishes the quarter on a Brendan Haywood dribble drive. Without getting too deep into the particulars, that shouldn't happen.
END OF THE FIRST: 27-25 LAL. Some pretty good shooting for both teams thus far, 50% for Washington, 53% for LA. At least the Lakers are doing a better job offensively, running things much better than they were earlier in the week.
AK with the second.
10:27 - Mihm attempts to snag his first "Comeback pt. VII" rebound, but gets called for the push off. His timing still looks a bit off, for sure, but Chris does appear to be moving a little better out there, if nothing else.
9:42 - Walton blocks Andray Blatche under the Laker goal, with Sasha picking up the loose ball and shuttling it to the other side. After one inside-outside flight path, the ball comes back to Farmar, who swings it to Sasha at the top of the arc. Pure.
Just got word. Antonio Daniels has a sprained left wrist. He's questionable to return.
8:14 - It's not exactly the classic deep penetration often used to crack a zone, but Walton catches the rock a few steps inside the three point line, draws a bit of attention, then kicks it to Sasha camped out in downtown. Money. Same result about 30 seconds later for Sasha, with the same guy setting him up. It's a quick dozen for "The Face," off to a very hot start.
6:21 - A tap back by Walton of Sasha's shot clock beating, errant mid-range eventually comes around to give him an easy bucket. The loose rock goes to Kobe along the perimeter, then Farmar, who dribbles two steps inside the arc and bounce passes to Walton for the uncontested layup.
4:03 - The Lakers work D.C. down to the shot clock's final seconds, but Nick Young floats inside the arc and puts one up a tick or two quicker than Vlad can put up his hands to bother the view. Shot falls, but about 20/24 of a pretty good stand.
1:59 - Beautiful job by Kobe working inside the Wiz D, drawing some attention before dishing off to FIsh, who follows suit LO's way, who follows suit Vlad's way. Downtown shot good, mirroring the same result awaiting Radmanovic 38 seconds from now.
2.7 - Three of the 5.7 seconds remaining are spent watching Kobe work the top of the arc, then drive down the left side and draw contact before twisting his way to a beautiful reverse layup. And one opportunity is converted, Nick Young's desperation heave barely misses paydirt, and the Lakers go into the locker room up 58-47. The second unit really provided a nice lift during the frame, maintaining a trend of nice ball movements (17 assists this half alone) while dropping the Wiz shooting perdentage from 50 to 40%. Nine points apiece from Sasha and Walton, plus another six from Vladdy (14 in the half) and five from Kobe. The Lakers have the mo'. Up to them to keep it rolling. We shall see. BK with the third.
Big minutes for the Lakers, who need to make sure they don't let a Washington run pull the Wizards back in quickly. Keep the lead in that 7-13 point range (or more, obviously), and slowly squeeze Washington.
Good start, as the Lakers get a couple FTs, then a dunk from Vlad on a run out, and are now up 15, 62-47.
17, after LO gets inside, and kicks out to Ronny for an open jumper from the FT line extended.
7:58- Lakers up 68-59, but Haywood is at the line with a chance to cut the lead to seven. LA has given up a little run here, about a third of the way into the quarter, mostly fueled by outside shooting from the Wiz. They've pushed, now LA has to push back.
Good start, as Kobe penetrates right baseline on Jamison, then hits a cutting Turiaf for an easy dunk.
On the other end, Rad loses Butler, who puts the ball back off the back door cut for an easy deuce. On their next trip, Jamison sticks a triple in LO's face, and the Wizards are back down by seven.
6:20- Lakers 74, Wiz 65. Great lay by LO. Kobe lofts the ball into the post- a bit of a floater- and LO not only fights off two Wizards players for the ball, but also has the presence of mind to squeeze out a pass to a cutting (you guessed it) Turiaf, peeling to the hoop, for a dunk. Very good play.
4:27- Laker lead down to five as Stevenson hits yet another three, this time in front of Kobe, who then picks up the whistle on the other end for the offensive foul while trying to post up. Looked like a pretty soft call to me.
3:11- Lakers now up just by one, as Butler goes end to end- nobody stops the ball, and he hits the teardrop over Ronny.
Kobe comes back on the other end, blows by Stevenson on the left baseline, and gets the easy dunk.
2:29- 80-77 LAL. Washington has cranked up the offense in the third (6-7 from downtown), and the triples have helped bring them back into the game. LA is still doing a decent job putting up points and running the O, but on the other end, they've broken down more in the third than in the previous two quarters.
2:10- Stevenson hits another three, as Kobe gave him too much room up top to get it off. He helped on the penetration at the top of the key, but as soon as the pressure came, Butler kicked to Stevenson and Kobe was too far away to recover.
24 drives and gets the layup on the next trip down, though, pushing the Laker lead back to three, 83-80.
END OF THE THIRD:
Not a good quarter for the Lakers, who lose all of their ten point lead, and it's tied at 86-86. The Wizards were unusually hot from downtown, but the Lakers didn't do a good job closing on shooters, either. Too many breakdowns. They scored enough on the offensive end, but when they had a chance to put the game away up by 15, instead they let the Wizards shoot their way back into the game.
Hopefully, AK can bring home a winner.
11:18 - I'm just going assume Mbenga called "glass" internally on that bank shot. He yelled it, but kept it all inside.
10:59 - Walton cuts to the basket and gets set up nicely by Kobe for the and one bucket. Freebie converted. The Laker lead gets pushed to three. Then five, after a Mebnga hook shot! Dude can't be stopped. Nice job using the mismatch of a little guy on him down low.
8:24 - Kobe penetrates and dishes to Sasha, who connects from the corner section of Downtown Staples. The lead pushes to 4.
7:28 - More inside movement creating outside shots. This time it's LO taking the rock deep inside the paint, then passing out to Kobe along the arc, who immediately scoots it to Sasha. Another three ball for Vujacic, whose point total now matches his jersey number. 18, for those who haven't paid close attention to his digits.
5:24 - Mbenga with the Mblock!!! Mbrendan Haywood Mbites the dust! Kobe Mbryant scoops up the loose Mball, then throws the Peyton Manning-style Mbomb to a streaking Walton, who throws down the Mbreakaway dunk.
Timeout Wizards. Lakers up by 9.
4:14 - Save all five Lakers deciding at once to leave the court at the same time and catch a flick, Nick Young couldn't possibly have been left more wide open on that trey ball.
3:12 - Nice job by Ronny tapping back consecutive misses by Kobe and LO. Walton races down the loose ball, hands off to Fish, who calls time out. Lakers retain possession and start all over.
2:22 - After NIck Young knots up the contest at 105 all with a three ball (the Lakers seem very intent on never guarding that particular region) Walton's three ball rattles in and out. LO snags it, but the ball gets knocked loose into Wiz mitts and they call timeout.
1:57 - Clutch play by Fish, coming down with Stevenson's miss while surrounded by a pair of Wizard bodies, then hitting a cutting Kobe with the perfect bounce. Thunder dunk to break the tie.
33.0 - Kobe hits a pair of big freebies to raise the Laker lead to a three ball "cushion."
10.1 - Fish forces Butler into a seriously tough three ball heave... and it drops. Nothing but net. Wow. Butler almost busts into Sam Cassell's "big testicle" dance, but opts instead for the classic "primal scream." 111 per side. Lakers do a chalk talk.
Kobe drives the lane as the final seconds work their way down, then kicks to Fish for a reasonably good look from behind the arc. Corner shot up... and out... No bueno. Five minutes of free roundball coming to the people at Staples.
1:49 - Briefly lost my connection. Apologies. But I do have good news to report, Fish just nailed a three.
1:18 - I take it back. I had good news. That was before Young slips Fish on the fake, then moves inside a few steps and cans the 18-footer. That's 27 points for the Trojan rook, who's absolutely killing the Lakers in a return to the ol' hometown. Well, Receda, but close enough.
1:02 - Another bucket by Fish, one the crowd wanted called as a downtown shot, but correctly labeled a two ball. The replay showed FIsh's feet were on the line, much less the toes. Lakers down by 1.
37.8 - Kobe at the stripe again for his 12th and 13th attempts of the night. Both are converted. The Laker lead is a vulnerable uno.
13.3 - Another pair at the line for Kobe. First is fine. Second goes astray, but Walton tracks down the miss before it runs out of bounds. He shuttles it to Sasha, who comes through on both attempts after getting fouled.
5.9 - Solid D by Walton forces Butler to brick the Wizards' final attempt. He ends up rewarded for the effort by getting set up for a send off dunk to close out the 126-120 win. Big and needed victory by the Lakers, getting the team not only its 50th win, but a reprieve from the schneid. All five Laker starters hit double figures, while Luke Walton and Sasha Vujacic combined for 39. Wasn't always pretty, but the job was done. More to come later. Thanks for dropping by.