Tonight was a strange one in Washington, if for no other reason than the fact that the Lakers struggled to close out an awful Wizards team. Jodie Meeks had his best night as a Laker and Cartier Martin was added to the long list of career nights from obscure ball players with is 21 and eight performance which included five three pointers. Meeks started a little slow, blowing a wide open layup in transition, but found his rhythm and shot the ball incredibly well. He was four-for-five on corner threes and hit a fade away from the left wing with the shot clock winding down to open the fourth quarter on a shot that he normally wouldn’t have taken without the confidence. He was also able to get to the rim a few times. He had two transition layups after Wizard turnovers. He also dove from the weak side with Kobe posting up 15-feet away. With Kobe drawing so much attention, Meeks was unbothered as he cut and was able to finish with an easy basket.
Kobe’s night was also an interesting one. He’s been moving in and out of what we can consider a point guard roll, and tonight he did a decent job facilitating. He finished with seven assists, but had countless other passes that led to wide open jump shots and attempts around the rim (Howard was fouled on a couple of those, and of course, the missed Meeks layup). On the other hand, however, Kobe took a lot of shot tonight. And a lot of them were unwarranted, low percentage shots. Bean finished with 30 points, but it took 29 attempts to get him there, which resulted in this heinous shot chart.
Kobe was brilliant from 7-15 feet on the night, but everything beyond that was horrendous. Bryant has been suffering through back spasms, which may be the reason why his shot has been off. Whatever the case, his insistence on jacking up shots was both a gift and a curse for the Lakers tonight. The offense seemed to go into a stand still for long stretches, especially in the fourth where it seemed Bryant was intent on getting to 30. As a result, Dwight Howard didn’t see the ball in the paint for long stretches, and other guys weren’t able to benefit from his kick out passes that have led to open jump shots. Howard only finished with eight shot attempts and 12 points on the night in 32 minutes (foul trouble kept him out for some stretches), but he did finish with 14 rebounds.
D’Antoni also continued to play with lineups on the night. In the first quarter, eight guys saw time on the floor, including Robert Sacre who made the most of his minutes. He only finished with four points and four rebounds, but he played a bit better than he did against New York and proved that he can be more than just a body off the bench. One of his buckets came after an offensive rebound that he turned into a dunk. His other was on a baseline fade away — something that we hadn’t seen from him in any of his garbage minutes or preseason. Sacre only got extended minutes because Hill was down with back spasms, but it was nice to see him come in and play his role well and not hurt the team in the process.
Overall, a six point win over the Washington Wizards wasn’t the most encouraging victory we’ve ever seen, but it was definitely needed nonetheless. Winning streaks have to start somewhere, and if you can’t get one started against the Wizards, you’re in for a very long season. Like much of every game this season, the Lakers issues on the defensive end of the floor still persisted and they had some untimely turnovers, but tonight, I’d rather ignore those issues just enjoy the win. It had been a while.