Lakers-Wizards Preview

Kobe Bryant would like to see the Los Angeles Lakers play the

Washington Generals next.

That won’t happen but they will instead see the league’s worst

team that hails from the nation’s capital.

The struggling Lakers have been defenseless during a four-game

losing streak heading into Friday night’s road matchup with the

Washington Wizards.

The Lakers (9-14) fell 116-107 at New York on Thursday, allowing

the Knicks to shoot 53.2 percent for the third-highest mark against

them. They yielded 68 first-half points, and have given up an

average of 62.3 during this slide.

“We are having a re-occurring theme that the first quarter is

just not good, and then the first half is not great and in the

second half we seem to turn it on, and we need to solve that

problem real quick,” coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Bryant scored 31 points and leads the NBA with 29.3 per game,

but Los Angeles fell to 1-11 when he scores at least 30. The Lakers

are trying to avoid their first five-game skid in two seasons.

“At this point I wish we had the Washington Generals on our

schedule,” Bryant said.

If the Lakers want to show improvement on defense, Friday

presents an ideal opportunity. Washington (3-16) is last in the NBA

in scoring at 90.4 points per game and field-goal percentage at


Los Angeles had won nine straight in this series before a

106-101 defeat in the lone meeting last season March 7.

There’s reason to believe that Dwight Howard, who had 20 points

and seven boards Thursday, can turn in a monster effort. Howard is

averaging 24.3 points on 73.4 percent shooting and 13.4 rebounds

per game in his last nine against the Wizards – all victories when

he played for Orlando.

Lakers forward Pau Gasol has missed the past six games with

tendinitis in his knees and remains day-to-day. Former Wizards

captain Antawn Jamison has started five times in his place, and

finished with three points Thursday.

Los Angeles is 2-8 on the road while Washington owns the NBA’s

worst home mark at 2-7.

Still, the Wizards have won three times since their 0-12 start

and are eager to take advantage of the Lakers’ woes.

“Everybody knows they’ve been kind of struggling and we look

forward to take advantage of that,” Washington reserve guard Shaun

Livingston said. “You got to come to play and we’re at home and we

tend to play well at home so hopefully we can come in with a lot of


The Wizards fell 99-93 at Houston on Wednesday, although their

backcourt of Jordan Crawford and rookie Bradley Beal combined for

37 points.

There are signs that Crawford and Beal are gelling. Crawford is

averaging 19.5 points over his last eight games while Beal is

averaging 17.5 over his last four.

“He is being more aggressive and that’s the main thing,” said

Crawford about Beal. “He’s not passing up as many shots as he was

early and just being aggressive. We both have good size and we both

kind of do the same thing, shooting and driving. We play off each

other real well.”