So the Wizards actually beat the Lakers earlier this year. On March 7, 2012, they pulled out a 106-101 victory in the District, led by Nick Young’s 19 points and a still career-high six assists off the bench. Trevor Booker also muscled his way to 18 points and 17 rebounds that night. And if you recall, the Lakers were up 21 points in the second half. It was Washington’s first victory over the Lake Show since Gilbert Arenas dropped 60 points in his hometown of Los Angeles on December 17, 2006.
In the March win, Roger Mason played the hometown hero by somehow going 4-for-7 from the 3-point line in 12 minutes (all in the second half, three in the fourth quarter). Thus, the Wizards managed to turn a crowd mostly in favor of the Lakers to start into an arena rocking for the comeback Wiz Kids in the end. Afterward, Kobe Bryant was understandably terse with the media, trying his best to “keep it to one-word answers.”
Now Kobe’s Lakers come to Washington with a 9-14 record, somehow with only two fewer losses than the 3-16 Wizards, and having lost to the Knicks in Madison Square Garden on Thursday night national television. New York put up 41 points in the first quarter, was up 68-49 at halftime, and ultimately won 116-107. Afterward, Kobe had this to say (via TNT):
“Every game for us has a lot of meaning to it, at this point. I don’t think it’s … Maybe if we were rollin’, playing well, it would probably have added significance [playing Knicks], but
at this point, I wish we had the Washington Generals on our schedule.”
The fact that the Wizards actually play in Washington was not lost on the TNT crew. Still, Kobe must be miserable with all the losing (four in a row now), and he also dealt with back spasms during the Knicks game. But if he and the Lakers haven’t been motivated enough already, I’m not sure facing the Wizards/Generals will change much. Friday will be all about which team of Randy Wittman’s shows up.
Otherwise, remember when Lakers fans started dancing in the streets with championship hopes because the Oklahoma City Thunder traded James Harden to Houston (much less the dancing that happened when they got Steve Nash, and then Dwight Howard)?
Well, it’s a long season, as goes the message surrounding the Wizards from the start. (Yep, we get it. We always get it.) Meanwhile, Oklahoma City has the NBA’s best record with 18 wins and four losses; Los Angeles sits only one game better than the 8-15 Phoenix Suns and 2.5 games out the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
So welcome to Washington, Mr. Bryant, I’m sure your Lakers fans await. But clearly you need more help than a home court on the road.