The Los Angeles Lakers have a chance to win consecutive games for the first time in more than nine months. Though the Atlanta Hawks' last winning streak was much more recent, it feels like an eternity ago.
Kobe Bryant finally delivered a performance that matches up with his closing legacy, and he will try to make it two in a row when the Lakers visit the slumping Hawks Friday night.
Washington was the second stop on Bryant's farewell tour after he announced his impending retirement prior to a season-long eight-game road trip. He turned back the clock by scoring 12 of his season-high 31 points in the fourth quarter during Wednesday's 108-104 victory over the Wizards.
It snapped the Lakers' seven-game losing streak and eight-game skid on the road. It also puts them in position to win two straight for the first time since winning three in a row Feb. 22-27.
Battling an ailing body and shooting woes, Bryant will look for his second straight standout game - something that hasn't happened yet this season.
He made 10 of 24 shots against the Wizards and 4 of 11 from 3-point range, but he hasn't made at least 40 percent of his shots and 33 percent of his 3-pointers in consecutive games. He only has those shooting numbers on two occasions total.
In Tuesday's 103-91 loss at Philadelphia to open the road trip, Bryant finished 7 of 26 from the field while making 4 of 17 from beyond the arc. Even after Wednesday, he was still last of 115 qualifying players in field goal percentage (31.1) and last of 101 in 3-point percentage (22.2).
''We are all just having fun and going out there and trying to play with the right energy,'' Bryant said. ''It seems like it has pumped some life into us.''
Atlanta could use a similar jolt.
The Hawks (12-9) lost three straight in mid-November and have traded wins and losses in eight games since. They have dropped seven of 11 and haven't won two in a row since a seven-game run Oct. 29-Nov. 7 - a spurt that had them looking like the title contender they were a year ago.
However, after opening a three-game homestand with a 106-100 win over Oklahoma City, Atlanta squandered a big second-half lead in Wednesday's 96-86 loss to Toronto, snapping a three-game home winning streak.
The Hawks led by as much as 17 in the third quarter before the Raptors rallied. Atlanta allowed a season-high 39 points in the final quarter and lost for the first time in 36 home games when leading to begin the fourth.
''It's just unacceptable on our part,'' center Al Horford said. ''We just relaxed in the second half as a team, especially in the fourth quarter. It's just disappointing.''
Horford's 12 points helped him match a career high with 21 consecutive double-digit games, but Atlanta finished with season lows in points and field goal percentage (36.7). The Hawks scored fewer than 90 points for the second time in three games while shooting worse than 30 percent from 3-point range (29.6) for the third time in five.
After calling the Lakers "a circus" following their loss to the 76ers, guard Nick Young did not play against the Wizards.