The Los Angeles Lakers look to extend their home winning streak to eight games against the Washington Wizards on Friday night. LA had a productive three-day break following a short-handed loss at Phoenix. Over those days off, Kobe Bryant returned from an ankle injury that sidelined him for the better part of three games.
Also, Pau Gasol completed his six and a half week recovery from a foot injury sustained in Brooklyn, and the Lakers appear whole again (minus Jordan Hill, but he’s likely done for the year).
This time around, coach Mike D’Antoni wants to keep Gasol with the starting unit, and Dwight Howard and Steve Nash appear to be as healthy as they have been all season.
Adding to that, the Lakers have won 11 of the last 15 games, and LA is undefeated at Staples Center following the All-Star break. That’s a seven-game home winning streak, and that streak was without Gasol involved.
On Friday night, the Lakers look to make it eight in a row, but winning against the Washington Wizards is not as easy as it sounds.
The Wizards storm into Staples Center having won four of their last five games. With their best player, John Wall, missing nearly half the season, the Wizards are assured a place the lottery once again. However, Wall is back and he is averaging 20 points and eight assists over the past 10 games.
Fortunately, the Lakers are not taking the Wizards lightly.
“They’re playing well,” D’Antoni said about the Wizards at Thursday’s practice. “They went into Phoenix [Wednesday] night and won. We didn’t do that. So, we have to pay attention and play well, or we’re not going to beat them.”
Along with Wall, Martell Webster poses a threat for the Lakers. His outside shooting ability can be lethal, and three games ago, he made 7-10 from three-point land.
Along with Wall, the Wizards also have former Laker Trevor Ariza back healthy in their team. With Nene rounding out the headlining list of visiting performers Friday night at Staples Center, the Lakers will not simply get a win by showing up.
As a point of interest, the Lakers have not lost a home game since Dr. Jerry Buss, long-time owner of the Lakers, passed away the day after the All-Star game. Thursday’s Lakers team photo was a reminder of Dr. Buss, as no one occupied the center seat usually reserved for Dr. Buss.
Friday, the Lakers look to continue their Dr. Buss home winning streak.