[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Game No. 68, Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Lakers; contributors: Conor Dirks, Rashad Mobley and Kyle Weidie via television broadcast.]
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.”
ShareBullets… a run-down of commentary on recent Wizards subjects, and links…
Kobe on the Rebuild in Washington.
The below video is a bit old… it’s from the Los Angeles Lakers locker room after they lost to the Wizards in D.C. on March 7 (The Lakers said WHAT?); Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher speak in the video, sort of. Kobe tries his best to keep his answers to one word (he’s even asked by if his post-game media session in Washington is the most “Belichick” he’s ever been), Gasol says the loss was “embarrassing,” and Fisher, playing in his final loss as a Laker, says, “I’ve been around long enough to realize that you can’t allow yourself to be defined by the changing opinions of the critics or media personal that cover our game.”
The most pertinent question for Wizards fans, however, is when Kobe’s asked what needs to happen in Washington to get the franchise to the point of respectability. “Got to make the right decisions,” said Kobe plainly. “You got to make the right decisions from a management standpoint, the players you bring in here. That’s all it is, just making the right choices.” With calls for Ernie Grunfeld’s job reaching the generic sports column platform of the Washington Post, you have to wonder how the current team president’s track record of decision-making has been evaluated by current team ownership.
Nick Young passing (a career-high six assists), Kevin Seraphin putting in disciplined big man work (a career-high 14 points, a tied career-high of nine rebounds), Trevor Booker becoming an unmasked monster (a career-high 17 rebounds, eight offensive), and the big hero, Roger “How U” Mason catching fire (4-for-7 on 3-pointers, 3-for-6 in the fourth quarter)… Just what got into these Washington Wizards on Wednesday night in their 106-101 come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Lakers?
The perfect union of normally fractured Wizards efforts came together as one against the super powers of the Lakers, aided by Kobe Bryant jacking shots (which you can read about in a piece by yours truly on ESPN Daily Dime). Kobe went 1-for-1o in the fourth quarter, 3-for-18 in the second half, after scoring 20 first half points (14 during a blazing first quarter start in front of what seemed to be Lakers jerseys out-numbering Wizards jerseys 10-to-1 in the Verizon Center). Any John Wall? Presumed by me to be the Wizards’ only advantage, and chance, going into the game? He finished with a mere four points on 1-for-8 shooting with nine assists and five turnovers. Instead, the Wizards got 55 points off their bench. So whatever it was, after being down 20 points with about six minutes left in the third quarter, they’ll take it.
Randy Wittman after the game: “Hopefully this can go a long way for us in terms of that mentality of staying in the game, playing as hard as you can. You never know in an NBA game what’s going to happen, doesn’t matter who you’re playing.”
A turning point for a young team? A brief glimpse of unfulfilled potential? A rare alignment of stars allowing Washington to beat stars? Only time will reveal these answers… as it always does. The Wizards said WHAT? Exactly.
First, congrats goes to Tom Yi for winning two lower-level tickets to tomorrow’s Wizards-Heat game thanks to StubHub. Tom was the first to respond via email with the correct answer to the following Twitter Trivia question: “Name the last Washington Wizard to achieve 20 or more rebounds in a game.”
The answer, along with other Wizards/Bullets who have achieved a 20-plus rebound game since the 1986-87 season, can be found courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.
If you tucked yourself into bed early last night, snug as a bug on a cold December evening, nice job of letting something as silly as sleep usurp your Wizards fandom, because you missed a helluva game.
With people already checking mock drafts and college prospects for roster potentials, it’s worth notching Washington’s 115-108 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers as moral victory No. 3 on the season, after Orlando at home and Miami on the road, and last night’s game certainly holds to the top spot as the Wizards’ most entertaining game of the season, win or loss.
There were so many highlight plays by both teams that several will surely fall between the cracks (and did in the highlight video above). From a Wizards’ perspective, he’s a quick overview:
Trevor Booker is a man, and not just in physique. The four-year college player from Clemson showed veteran confidence against the Lakers on his way to 14 points, four rebounds and two steals in 21 minutes off the bench. But should he start in front of Andray Blatche? (BTW, Blatche sat out the Lakers game with a left hip bruise last night. Speaking of, why are so many Wizards sitting out with bruises lately — or “contusions” as they are called? First it was Nick Young sitting out against the Blazers and now Dray — and I’m not here to say those contusions don’t hurt and make it hard to move, but sitting out with a bruise would seemingly indicate inherent softness … just saying.) Anyway, Mike Prada on Bullets Forever writes:
“I would be careful to overreact to this game and call for sweeping changes to the starting lineup. While Booker played great, this was also a fast-paced game with a lot of instinct rather than thinking, and he excels in that kind of setting. That said, maybe it’s time to make some changes in the rotation. Less Andray Blatche, much less Yi Jianlian and more Young at small forward. I’m not talking something as drastic as a lineup change necessarily, but if Booker T and the Frenchman don’t earn more PT going forward, then you’re essentially saying playing the Lakers this close is meaningless.”