The Lakers were up 76-55 in the third quarter only to lose 106-101. LA didn’t just blow a monster 21-point lead; they blew the lead to the Washington Wizards. Just to make matters worse, it was the second string Wizard players that pulled off the turnaround. Names like Seaphin (shot 7-8), Young (19 points), Booker (18 points), and Mason (14 points) took out the mighty LA machine of Bryant, Gasol, and Bynum.
Just to put things in perspective, this is a Washington team that is 9-29 on the season, a team whose home crowd had such little pride that they chanted for Kobe as MVP in the first half. This is a team that ranks 29th in the league in points allowed, 23rd in points per game, 27 in assists per game, and 18th in rebounds per game. In a word, they are horrible. The highlight of their 2012 season will be this win over the Lakers and the NBA Lottery.
LA appeared to have the game locked up as Kobe and company were unstoppable in the first half. Bynum and Gasol were well on their ways to 19-point games and Kobe was tearing it up headed to 30, but then everything changed.
Bynum stated after the game “I was out there kind of loafing around and having a good time.” Really? At what point did Bynum stop having a good time? Was it when he looked up and realized he lost the game in one of the ugliest implosions in recent Laker history?
When Kobe was asked after the game how surprised he was to lose after being up 21 points in the 3rd he said, “I will keep it to one word, shocked.” When asked was he disappointed he responded, “Very.”
At least someone on the Laker sideline appeared to care. Kobe is the physical and emotional leader of this Laker team. Gasol and Bynum ebb and flow, but Kobe is the taskmaster that must demand performance from a squad that can admittedly loaf.
When Larry Bird was interviewed earlier this year as to the greatest player in the league today he responded unequivocally LeBron James. When asked whom he’d like to play with the most he said Kobe Bryant. And when asked why, Bird said it was simple, Kobe plays to win and so do I. If Larry Legend is right, Kobe’s going to have to take his team to task and emerge from this demanding road trip with a new found determination the Lakers appear to be lacking in their admitted tendency to loaf.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS