After three full days of rest the Los Angeles Lakers had opened up an 18 point lead on the Washington Wizards but fell apart as the game went on, eventually losing 103-100. Insult to injury? Antawn Jamison sprained his wrist on his shooting hand and will have further tests, so it's once again "holding breath" time.
There's some lemon juice in an open wound.
Pau Gasol made his return after missing the previous six weeks and certainly looked like a player who hadn't played professional basketball for the past month and a half. He made a handful of great passes, but struggled to find his own rhythm in the game itself. His teammates found him below the free throw line for a handful of mid-range jumpers that he couldn't capitalize on. Gasol went 2-for-10 in his return for four points while also pulling down 8 rebounds.
Gasol wasn't the only returning Laker, as Kobe Bryant was also back in action. Bryant spent much of his night setting his teammates up as he picked up 11 assists. In the fourth quarter Bryant asserted himself in scoring mode, but missed three field goals in the final minutes prior to making a prayer of a three when the Lakers were down four with four seconds left in the quarter. Kobe also had six turnovers on the night.
There were two glaring issues for the Lakers Friday night. The first: turnovers. The Lakers were moving the ball plenty through the night, but at times it was either too much or flat out wild. The Wizards took advantage of the always lackadaisical Lakers' transition defense and scored 21 points off of turnovers.
The other issue? Defensive rotations and leaving players wide open along the arc. It was as if the Wizards had opened a vortex in the lane that sucked every single Lakers player in. Washington had a myriad amount of open looks throughout the night which brought them back from the 18 point deficit the Lakers created.
On the subject of awful defense, no player on the Wizards took greater advantage of it than former Laker Trevor Ariza. His seven three-point field goals made were a new career high as he scored 25 points. One career night deserves another, and John Wall had a career high 16 assists as he picked apart the Lakers defense like a turkey on Thanksgiving. When he wasn't busy having a career passing night, he was keeping the Lakers on their heels as he sped up the court like a missile guided to the rim and also scored 24 points.
Dwight Howard had a strong outing, making eight of his nine field goal attempts and four of his seven free throws on his way to 20 points. He also grabbed 15 rebounds after failing to break the 12 or more mark for the first time since the All-Star break when the Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns.
Disappointing, deflating, disgusting, disheartening, demoralizing, devastating... it can go on and on and that's just one letter of the alphabet.
The bin is full of these games on the season, but after playing so well since the All-Star break the Lakers showed they still haven't ran all of those terrible habits out of their system yet. The purple and gold will hit the road for a four-game road trip that begins Monday at Golden State.
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