WASHINGTON (AP)– Kobe Bryant took over the game by scoring 16 of his 24 points in the third quarter, and Andrew Bynum added seven points in his season debut Tuesday night as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the undermanned Washington Wizards 103-89.
Bryant scored 12 straight Lakers points during a 17-2 third-quarter run that put the game away. The Lakers won for the fifth time in six games, including three of the first four on their seven-game East Coast road trip.
Bryant’s hot streak came shortly after a dubious NBA hat trick. Fouled while attempting a 3-pointer, he missed all three free throws to the boos and laughter of the Verizon Center crowd.
A few minutes later, Bryant had quieted the Wizards fans and had the large contingent of Lakers fans cheering. His fadeaway 3-pointer from the left baseline rolled around the rim and fell in. Then came a 3-pointer from the right baseline. Then he was fouled attempting another 3, and this time he made all three free throws. Then came another 3 that made the score 80-64.
Bryant played only 24 minutes – scoring exactly a point per minute on the floor – and finished 7 for 13 from the field, including 4 for 6 from 3-point range.
Bynum, who had offseason surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his right knee, came off the bench and played 17 minutes, shooting 1 for 5 from the field and 5 for 8 from the free throw line.
Pau Gasol added 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers. Lamar Odom had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Shannon Brown scored 16 points.
The Lakers have been winning, but not by comfortable means. The two-time defending champs faced fourth-quarter deficits in seven of their previous nine games – including a 115-108 win over the Wizards in Los Angeles last week – but this time Washington didn’t have the firepower to come even close.
No. 1 overall pick John Wall missed yet another game, this time with tendinitis in his right knee. He’s sat out eight of 23 this season, mostly with left foot and left knee injuries. Forward Andray Blatche was also inactive with soreness in his left knee, and forward Yi Jianlian sprained his right knee in the first quarter and did not return.
Nick Young, who always seems to play well against teams from his native southern California, scored 21 points off the bench to lead the Wizards, who have lost five straight and nine of 10. Starting guards Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich combined to shoot 8 for 25 from the field.
Notes: Washington coach Flip Saunders explained Wall’s latest ailment: “He had some tendinitis in his knees in the summertime. When you’re inactive and you don’t play, and you don’t play for two or three days, and then you go out and play a game, tendinitis will flare up. We’ve got to keep him on a stricter program as far as conditioning when he’s not playing to make sure we can strengthen that.” … The Wizards, who have struggled all season at the gate, couldn’t even sell out the Lakers. Attendance was more than 3,000 short of a sellout. … Lakers G Sasha Vujacic, the subject of a possible impending trade, suited up but did not play.
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