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Friday, March 21, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Wizards 117, Lakers 107

By Dave McMenamin


LOS ANGELES -- A day after declaring their team goal to avoid becoming the worst squad in franchise history, the Los Angeles Lakers didn't look all that bad.

It wasn't a blowout like more and more of their losses had turned into lately.

And there was actually something for the fans to stand up and cheer about on a Friday night as Steve Nash, Nick Young and Jordan Hill all played for the first time since February.

And the Lakers actually performed well in two of their normal problem areas, keeping pace with the Wizards on the boards (44-44) and outscoring them 58-40 in the paint.

But as much as it was a pleasant surprise to see Nash rack up five points and 11 assists in 19 minutes, or a welcome return seeing Young score 21 points off the bench or watching Hill collect nine points and 14 rebounds, the Wizards proved quite simply to be the better team.

How it happened: The Wizards jumped out to an 11-point lead at the half with John Wall picking up nine of his 14 assists in the first two quarters. Washington's lead ballooned to 21 before Nash lead a surge by the Lakers to pull to within seven heading into the fourth. L.A. ran out of gas in the final period however as the playoff-bound Wizards made the lottery-bound Lakers look the team at the opposite end of the standings that they are.

What it means: With 14 games to go, it will be interesting to see how guys like Kent Bazemore (three points in 11 minutes) and MarShon Brooks (DNP-CD) respond to the new, healthy bodies added to the mix.

Hits: Jodie Meeks scored 21 points.

Xavier Henry scored 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting off the bench.

Pau Gasol had 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Misses: With the Wizards up by 10 with 2:14 to go, the game got ugly for a moment with Drew Gooden wrapping up Young's elbow and pulling it at an awkward angle. Young then pushed Gooden after he had fallen to the floor and Hill came to Young's defense when players started to crowd around Young and pushed Marcin Gortat out of the way before wrapping him up in a bear hug. Gooden was called for a flagrant-2 foul and ejected. Hill was T'd up and ejected. Young was also called for a technical foul. And it all had virtually no bearing on the outcome of the game.

Stat of the game: 21. The Lakers had 21 turnovers leading to 24 points for the Wizards.

Up next: L.A. finally gets a reprieve from its brutal schedule down the stretch with a date with the Orlando Magic (19-50) on Sunday.