John Wall leads Wizards to easy 101-88 win over Kobe, Lakers
LOS ANGELES (AP) Still wearing his uniform, John Wall spent a few minutes after the game waiting patiently in the hallway outside the Los Angeles Lakers' locker room to talk to Kobe Bryant.
''It's something you cherish,'' Wall said. ''I'm glad I had the opportunity to play (against him), and I'm glad my mom was here to see it.''
Wall couldn't miss one last chance to share time with the Lakers superstar. He also couldn't let the Wizards waste a game in their increasingly desperate playoff chase.
Wall had 22 points and 13 assists, and Marcin Gortat added 16 points and 10 rebounds in Washington's 101-88 victory over the Lakers on Sunday night.
Otto Porter Jr. scored 14 points as part of the Wizards' balanced performance in the opener of a four-game West Coast swing with their playoff hopes in peril. Wall had 17 points in the first half while Washington took a commanding lead, and returned to finish out the final minutes after the Wizards' lead dwindled.
Washington has won six of eight overall, but dropped two straight home games before the trip to fall into 10th place in the Eastern Conference, 2 1/2 games back of eighth-place Detroit.
''There's a lot to play for,'' Wall said. ''Detroit has a tough schedule. Other guys have a tough schedule. All we can do is control our own destiny, try to win as many games as we can. We've got the tiebreaker against Detroit and (ninth-place) Chicago, and plus we play Detroit one more time. We've just got to take care of our own business first.''
Bryant scored 17 points in 23 minutes for the Lakers, who have lost seven of eight to fall to 15-58. Bryant has four home games remaining in his 20-year NBA career, and the Staples Center crowd serenaded him with cheers and chants while the Lakers listlessly lost again.
''It was pretty ugly,'' Bryant said. ''It's about making the right plays. We missed a lot of easy ones tonight, a lot of layups, and that had a lot to do with it.''
Bryant hit two 3-pointers in the first 2 minutes, but cooled off after his third 3 later in the first quarter. He scored 15 points in the first half, but checked out of the game for good with 4:25 left in the third quarter, likely resting his legs for Monday's game at Utah.
''Kobe came out and made a couple with a hand in his face,'' Washington coach Randy Wittman said. ''That's who he is. You live with that. He's been great. He still can play. I don't know why he's retiring.''
J.J. Hickson scored all 14 of his points in the second half for the Wizards, who jumped out to a 24-point lead before the Lakers finally made a fourth-quarter rally.
READY TO PLAY
The Lakers have nine games left, and Bryant said he is ''damn sure going to try'' to play in all of them - ''unless something drastic happens, God forbid.'' He has missed 16 games this season, mostly to rest his sore right shoulder.
D'Angelo Russell scored 22 points for the Lakers despite leaving Friday's game early with a sprained ankle. Second-leading scorer Jordan Clarkson had only two points in 30 minutes, and the Lakers punctuated an abysmal team shooting game by missing 19 of 20 3-pointers before Russell's last-minute 3.
The Wizards hit the road after a disheartening double-overtime loss to lowly Minnesota, damaging their playoff chances. Bradley Beal, who missed potential game-winning 3-pointers at the end of regulation and the first overtime, went scoreless in the first three quarters against the Lakers. He was also slow getting up after taking a tumble to the court late in the first half. He finished with four points.
Wizards: F Markieff Morris sat out after straining his right calf against Minnesota. Nene took his place in the starting lineup and had 10 points. ... Gilbert Arenas watched the game from courtside. The longtime Wizards guard grew up in the San Fernando Valley.
Lakers: F Larry Nance Jr. had nine points. He will sit out Monday's game at Utah because the rookie doesn't play back-to-backs to rest his sore right knee. ... Ryan Kelly went scoreless in 17 minutes after sitting out the past three games.
Wizards: At the Warriors on Tuesday.
Lakers: At the Jazz on Monday.