On Wednesday night in Washington D.C., Kobe Bryant scored 31 points and led the Los Angeles Lakers down the stretch and onto victory over the Washington Wizards. The traveling Lakers beat the hometown Wizards 108-104 in a sloppy, yet thoroughly entertaining contest.
Bryant pulled out one of his greatest hits records and performed to a level deserving of his Hall-of-Fame career. The 37-year-old's 31 points only hinted at his impact on the game. Bryant won the game despite appearing in his fourth game in five nights and playing over 35 minutes. To add to those extended minutes, the Lakers traveled cross country from Los Angeles to Philadelphia on the "off day," but on Wednesday in the fourth quarter, Bryant showed no signs of wear.
He played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.
In that fourth quarter, Bryant scored 12 points on 5-11 shooting, including a deep three-pointer to put the Lakers up by two points with 58.9 seconds to play. That shot away the Wizards' one-point lead and put LA up by two. After Wall found Marcin Gortat for a layup, both team were knotted at 101-101.
Kobe Bryant on TWC: "(The legs) feel really good right now" Said he exercised last couple weeks: "my legs are starting to catch up." — Shahan Ahmed (@shahanLA) December 3, 2015
Bryant stepped forward and went off a vintage one-on-one fallaway jump shot from five feet inside the three-point line with 30.8 seconds to play. The Wizards lever tied or led again. The "Black Mamba" won the Lakers their third game of the season.
Bryant had logged 32 or more minutes in each of his previous three games, so logging close to 36 minutes and hitting those late crucial, game-winning shots showcased exactly how dedicated the 19-year veteran is to making his 20th season memorable for all the right reasons.
Wednesday night offered a great memory of Bryant winning the game. The Lakers hoped for more of those memories this season, but judging by how the Lakers competed against the Wizards, LA may yet pull off a few winning streaks once their young stars get their bearings.
Julius Randle appears to be the fastest developing of the youngsters with a monster double-double performance. Randle finished with 15 points and 19 rebounds, including seven offensive rebounds, in the victory. The 21-year-old's activity on the boards and in the passing lanes created opportunities throughout the night.
In a seesaw game, turnovers played a role, obviously. The Wizards turned the ball over 23 times, though the Lakers forced a great deal of those turnovers and collected 18 steals on the night. The Lakers had 17 turnovers of their own, so the game may not have looked like the academic's dream of basketball, but it sure offered entertainment value with players constantly sprinting and diving on the court.
For Bryant, this was night no. 2 of the official farewell tour. Rather than the massive ceremony he received in Philadelphia, which was the city of his birth, Bryant received a brief P.A. announcement that led to a standing ovation after the first timeout in the game. After the game, Bryant again heard his name chanted, which has become a regular occurrence on the road this season.
Next, the Lakers play in Atlanta on Friday. Tip-off is 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.
Notes: Jordan Clarkson finished with 18 points, three steals, four rebounds and one assist. D'Angelo Russell finished with 13 points, four steals, three assists and four rebounds. Brandon Bass scored 10 off the bench, and Lou Williams added 12 points off the pine.