The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the lowly Washington Wizards on Friday night. Two days later, it still doesn’t sound or feel any better, but this loss was forgivable. Why?
Well, Kobe Bryant lost the game, and he is entitled to lose one after being on the shelf for a week with an ankle injury.
There, I said it. It was Kobe’s fault.
He’s won several games this year, and the Lakers are only as good as Kobe, but Friday night, he didn’t play great in the second half. Kobe’s 13 fourth quarter points on 4-10 shooting would not appear to be all that destructive, but he stopped sharing the ball and refused to play defense.
His defensive assignment, Trevor Ariza, hit four 3-pointers down the stretch.
When asked why Ariza was so open, Dwight Howard tried to hold back a smile as he refused to answer (Video: Howard dodges tricky Kobe Bryant question). Everyone knew the answer. Kobe didn’t play defense, and Ariza burned the Lakers. Howard wouldn’t say it, though.
Howard was not the only person dodging questions and refusing to utter the words “Kobe Bryant” after the game.
Coach Mike D’Antoni went off on a rant that called the Lakers’ championship aspirations “laughable.” He appeared as frustrated as he’s ever been, but even he would not say the name.
When asked about why the ball was sticking during the fourth quarter, D’Antoni smiled sarcastically and said, “Oh I don’t know.”
“I wish I Knew,” D’Antoni laughed hysterically. “What, you gonna thow me a piece of dynamite?”
The answer was simple and scary: Kobe. D’Antoni, like Howard, couldn’t say the name.
When a player takes 10 of the final 20 field goal attempts and attempts all seven free throws in the fourth quarter, there is no real mystery as to why the ball stopped moving. Kobe went on the floor and decided to out-shoot the Wizards. He failed, and the Lakers lost.
The Lakers put up 26 points in the final quarter, but Bryant’s poor defense also helped allow 31 points—Ariza had 14 of those. For anyone interested, the rest of the Lakers actually shot 5-10 in the fourth quarter, and that was without Howard or Gasol attempting a single shot.
Kobe lost a game. It happens. He'll move on. The Lakers will too.
After the day off on Saturday, the Lakers return to practice on Sunday morning. Then, they start a four-game road trip on Monday at the Golden State Warriors.