Dave Johnson: Undermanned and overwhelmed

Dave Johnson: Undermanned and overwhelmed
December 15, 2010, 2:41 am
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010 9:35 p.m.
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By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comWASHINGTON -- In the third quarter against the Wizards Kobe Bryant did the unthinkable and the remarkable. Bryant did miss all three free throws after getting fouled attempting a three-point shot, but he also scored 16 of his game high 24 points in the third quarter to lead the Lakers past the Wizards 103-89.After Bryant missed those three free throws, I called Nick Young and Gilbert Arenas over and I said I just want you guys to be ready, because Kobe is the type of player who the more the challenge, the better he rises to the occasion, said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. I know hes going to get aggressive and he got going and just got on a roll. Thats what he does, and thats why hes going to go down as one of the greatest who has played the game.A week after scoring 30 points off the bench against the Lakers, Nick Young again led the Wizards with 21 points. Young scored 17 of his points in the first half as he provided the necessary spark to keep an undermanned Wizards team within striking distance of the defending world champions.The Wizards were forced to adjust their starting lineup with Andray Blacthe out with a sore left knee and John Wall sidelined by as sore right knee. To literally add insult to injury Yi Jianlian replaced Blatche as a starter, but had to leave the game in the first quarter with a sprained right knee.You cant worry about things that you have no control over, Saunders pointed out. At no point did I think our guys didnt play hard and compete tonight. I think thats something that weve got to build on. .Its not that the Wizards played poorly. The Lakers only had a 46-45 advantage rebounds and the hustle numbers like fast break points and second chance points were about even. The Wizards only had 10 turnovers, two fewer than the Lakers, but the Lakers scored an amazing 22 points off those ten turnovers.The Wizards just struggled to score and missed a frustrating number of good opportunities. For the game the Wizards only made 13 of 29 shot attempts in the paint including an incredible 7 missed layups. From the perimeter the Wizards didnt have the answer either and finished 3 of 19 from three-point distance.With Blatche and Wall out, the Wizards could have used big games from Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich. It didnt happen. Arenas and Hinrich only combined for 18 points on 8 of 25 shooting from the field. Arenas, who had been listed as probable because of soreness, was not as aggressive and did not attempt one free throw.The Lakers ability to get to the free throw line also turned the game. The Lakers had a plus-17 advantage in made free throws as they finished 29 of 40 from the line. Lamar Odom scored 6 of his 18 points on free throws to go with his game-high 10 rebounds.As has been the case all season the Wizards did get the production it needed from its bench with 46 points. Along with Youngs 21 points, Trevor Booker added 9 points and a career high 9 rebounds. Fellow rookie Kevin Seraphin had 6 points and 9 rebounds in 15 minutes.The contributions from the Wizards rookies are welcome but have also become necessary for a team that has used an NBA-high 10 different starting lineups in 23 games.Every time you lose someone, roles change, Saunders added. When you continue to lose people, youre looking at a guy like Trevor Booker whos an energy guy for you, but now he has to become a main guy. Youre asking for somebody that is really not ready to do that, but I thought overall as a team we competed.