Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 103-100 loss Friday over the Washington Wizards
1. The Lakers made this game unneccessarily close. After leading by as many as 18 points and showing perfect offensive balance, the Lakers squandered an opportunity for a breezy win over a poor sub. 500 team. Instead, the following happened. Washington cashed 21 points off the Lakers’ 17 turnovers. Kobe Bryant’s non-existent defense allowed former Laker Trevor Ariza to go off for 25 points on 9 of 25 shooting. Poorly constructed offense that featured Bryant hero-ball and Metta World Peace trying to drive coast to coast resulted in a surprising loss to the Wizards. The Lakers sure never fail on making things more difficult, the same reason why they’re fighting for playoff contention in the first place.
\2. Antawn Jamison sprained his right wrist He plans to receive x-rays after the game, but this hardly good news for a team that just fielded its regular starting lineup together for the second time this season under Mike D’Antoni. It’s possible Jamison’s injury stems from a third-quarter play where he attempted to dunk after driving through the baseline. Whatever the case, this could provide a severe blow for the Lakers’ bench. His 11 points on 5 of 9 shooting featured him canning many shots both in the paint and near the perimeter.
3. Pau Gasol looked rustyHis four-point performance on 2 of 10 shooting hardly looked impressive on paper. Gasol’s timing on passes and on rotations looked a few steps behind. So much that Gasol didn’t even close out the game despite Jamison’s injury.
Considering the circumstances surrounding his conditioning, Gasol still offered some positive signs. He still hustled by grabbing XX rebounds. Gasol spaced the floor well. He ran pick-and-rolls effectively with Kobe Bryant. Plenty of times, Gasol’s facilitating presence set up Dwight Howard for easy baskets en route to a 20 points effort on 8 of 9 shooting.
4. Bryant changed from facilitating to scoring and not for the better.His left ankle looks great. Bryant easily adapted into his facilitating role, particularly on pick-and-rolls with Howard that usually ended with a lob or a clear lane to the basket en route to 11 assists. But with the game appearing out of reach, Bryant scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half. Impressive reverse dunk and three-pointer that cut the Lakers’ deficit to 101-100 remaining aside, the Lakers suddenly going to a Kobe-centric offense wasn’t a good thing. It turned the Lakers into predictable offense. Meanwhile, there’s no excuse for Bryant’s non-existent defense. He didn’t even try.
5. The Lakers offered the clearest evidence that they won’t be dangerous in the playoffs. Call it situational motivation, but playoff caliber teams don’t whither away to the degree the Lakers do. They can still come back and create momentum into the postseason. But they’re just setting themselves up for a quick first-round exit.
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