Arenas scored 34 and keyed the Wizards' second-half comeback,
leading Washington to a 94-91 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on
Bryant finished with 31 points, and hit two key 3-pointers late
in the fourth quarter to keep the Lakers in the game, but he
couldn't get off a potential game-tying shot in the final seconds.
"It got weird toward the end on this one, but it was our third
win in a row," said Arenas, who shot 11-for-23 from the field and
10-for-11 from the line.
The Wizards trailed by as many as 16 points in the second
quarter and were down by nine at the break. They ended the third
quarter on a 21-3 run to take a 72-66 lead. Arenas scored 10 points
during the decisive run.
The Lakers trailed by three points with 16 seconds left and got
the ball back after Arenas was whistled for traveling on a stutter
step. The Wizards double-teamed Bryant on the sideline, and he lost
the ball. The Wizards recovered and ran out the clock.
"We botched the play up and didn't execute it right. The
spacing was messed up," Bryant said. "We had a nice screen and
roll situation. ... We just didn't execute if properly."
Arenas said the team struggled at first to find its stroke after
returning from a five-game West Coast trip.
"It's hard to get that home rhythm that you are used to," he
said. "It kicked in in the second half."
Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan smiled and said "we designed it just
right" when asked about his team's defense on Bryant in the final
"We just wanted to make sure Kobe didn't get a good look,"
Jordan said. "Kobe tried to turn and make a pass at the same time,
and it just slipped out of his hand. That's just part of fatigue."
The Wizards led throughout the fourth, though never by more than
eight, and Bryant twice hit 3-pointers late in the period to bring
the Lakers within three.
Washington's second-half surge came after it shot just 15-of-45
from the field in the first half. Besides Arenas' 7-for-14 half,
the rest of the team shot only 8-of-31.
Bryant finished with 31 points after missing his first six
shots. He scored 20 in the first half but was 4-of-11 in the second
half. He shot 10-for-27 overall, with Caron Butler guarding him
most of the game.
Twice in the second half, Bryant was whistled for palming the
ball, and Jackson received a technical foul in the second half.
"What is it Leo Durocher says? 'We was robbed'? Is that the
line he used?" Jackson said. "That was quite an exhibition out
there tonight. For the second half, it was kind of uphill sledding
out there. ... Two palming violations on Kobe when he's probably
the least offender."
Jackson said the second half "just kind of went quickly south
on us and we were in foul trouble and it was a parade to the line
in the third quarter."
The Wizards were called for 30 fouls in the game and the Lakers
Smush Parker added 16 points for the Lakers, who shot 14-of-38
in the second half.
Kwame Brown, the Wizards' No. 1 overall pick in 2001, returned
to Washington for the first time since being traded to the Lakers.
Heavily booed by the sellout crowd when he entered the game late in
the first quarter, Brown finished with five points and seven
rebounds in 20 minutes.
He was also on the receiving end of derisive laughs when a pass
to him bounced off his head and went out of bounds.
"It was worse than that when I was here," Brown said of the
The Wizards' three-game winning streak coincides with the
decision to move Butler into the starting lineup and play the
6-foot-11 Jared Jeffries at shooting guard.
"I'm very excited about the lineup," Jordan said before the
game. "We've been trying to get the right guy next to Gilbert all
Game Notes Lakers coach Phil Jackson said before the game that he
believes Bryant deserved better treatment than he received from
Miami fans during the Lakers' Christmas Day loss to the Heat. "I
was disappointed in Miami people last night. He played a great game
... I think that was poor sportsmanship." ... Arenas scored at
least 30 points for the 13th time this season.