Lakers too much for Wizards to handle
So much for kicking sand in the faces of the Lakers.
When the Wizards’ answer to Kobe Bryant is Cartier Martin, well, the odds are not exactly stacked in their favor.
Despite a season-high 21 points from Martin, the Wizards faded down the stretch and fell to Bryant’s game-high 30 points in a 102-96 loss in front of a sellout crowd of 20,308 fans at Verizon Center.
Many of those fans came to see Bryant and Dwight Howard. The Lakers’ dynamic duo did not disappoint.
Bryant finished 9-for-29 from the field and 11-for-13 from the line and Howard managed 12 points and 14 rebounds, but it was Jodie Meeks coming off the bench for 24 points that put the dagger in the Wizards.
“We focused in on those two guys,” Wittman said of Bryant and Howard, “and [Meeks] took advantage of it.”
Friday’s defeat dropped the Wizards’ record to 3-17 and their record at home to 2-8. The Lakers snapped a four-game losing streak with the win, improving to 10-14 overall and 3-8 on the road.
Led by Martin, the Wizards used a 20-6 spurt midway through the second quarter to build a nine-point lead, but it disappeared just as quickly and became a 10-point deficit early in the third quarter, when the Wiz were outscored 25-14.
“Dwight’s a force and Kobe got a little hot in that second half,” Martin said. “But at the same time we’ve got to pick it up and play a better second half.”
Bryant scored 17 of his points in the second half, while Wizards rookie Bradley Beal went the entire half without a basket.
“Kobe’s Kobe,” Beal said. “He’s going to shoot the ball ‘til his arm falls off. I think we got the best of him but he still scored 30 points.”
The Wizards and Lakers each shot 53.8 percent in the first half, but in the second half the Lakers shot 37.2 percent and the Wiz shot 34.1 percent.
“They go 10-0 on us and put us in catch-up mode,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said.
“I thought there were some very questionable calls down the stretch, but those things tend to go their way.”
In addition to Martin’s outburst, the Wizards received 17 points each from Martell Webster and Nene and 16 from Kevin Seraphin.
It seemed every time the Wizards looked like they might climb within a couple buckets they tripped over their sneaker laces.
With 1:50 left, Seraphin slammed home a dunk and drew a foul to draw the Wizards to within 99-93. When Seraphin missed the free throw and the Wizards recovered the rebound they had a chance to draw within four, but Beal turned the ball over with a traveling violation.
Then, with 1:21 remaining and the Wizards down by seven, Bryant slipped between a pair of complacent Wizards to tap in a shot off the glass for a 102-93 lead.
That pretty much sealed it for the Lakers.