It’s that time of year when we’re to expect the unexpected in the hoops world. Of course the Lakers losing in inexplicable fashion is hardly unexpected. Even though the Lake Show has been playing its best ball of the season lately another head-scratching loss can hardly qualify as a moment of March Madness.
So when the Lakers were looking like they were going to boat race the hapless Washington Wizards we all should have seen what was coming.
All year long Mike D’Antoni’s team has specialized in blowing big leads. No matter the opponent. No matter the circumstances. No matter the setting. If this Lakers team gets a big lead they’re guaranteed to pull their foot off the gas and give the opposition life.
Tonight it just so happened it was Washington’s turn.
The Wizards earned their 25th win of the season by outscoring the Lakers 61-43 in the second half of a 103-100 contest that embodied all the frustration of a lost season in Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant showed no signs of being slowed by that injured ankle. In his first full game back KB24 was in attack mode all night scoring 21 while dishing out 11 dimes. His night was highlighted by beating former teammate Trevor Ariza off the dribble finishing with a baseline, under the hoop reverse throw down. But in the end Ariza got the last laugh and Mamba stormed off the court like he was ready to attack his team in the locker room.
Ariza led all scorers with 25 off the bench in his homecoming. The Westchester grad and former Bruin buried some big shots. However it was John Wall that did the most damage killing Steve Nash all night with 24 points and 16 assists. Wall put a nasty hesitation move on Nash that made the Canadian fall like Charles Barkley ice skating.
It was another one of those defenseless efforts fueled by careless turnovers. Basically your typical Laker loss.
Pau Gasol saw his first action since suffering that foot injury. The Spaniard started but only played 20 minutes looking every bit the part of a man trying to find his footing (no pun intended) again. Gasol shot just 2 of 10 scoring 4 with 8 boards.
Fellow Laker big Dwight Howard had an efficient night making 8 of 9 from the field putting 21 in the end of the box score with 15 boards. Nights like this make you wonder why he’s not demanding the ball more when a Collins twin is checking him. But such is the nature of D12.
And such is the nature of this season for the Lakers. After looking like a team poised to make postseason noise two ugly losses to NBA bottom feeders has reignited the doubts that have been present all year long. With Gasol and Bryant back the excuse train is running out of track. Do or die time arrived more than a month ago and if this keeps up the Lakers will die a slow, miserable death this season.