Other than a fiery first quarter for Kobe Bryant, this was far from vintage. But in the fourth, the 20-year veteran turned back the clock as he buried a three-pointer and a pull-up jump shot with 31 seconds left to give the L.A. Lakers a lead they'd never lose again.
John Wall had a game-high 34 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds as he brought the Wizards from 19 down in what felt like a road game in front of the third sellout of 20,356 at Verizon Center.
Bryant had 31 for the Lakers (3-15), who were routed by the NBA's worst team, the Philadelphia 76ers, on Tuesday. Chants of "K-O-B-E" dominated as he shined late and only cheers for the Lakers could be heard. Byrant announced over the weekend that he's retiring after this season.
The Wizards (7-9) had 23 turnovers, including seven in the fourth, to soil their accomplishment Tuesday of upsetting the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road. Wall's errant pass to Beal with 31 seconds left sealed the outcome as they lost to one of the NBA's worst teams.
Marcin Gortat had 18 points and 10 rebounds but Otto Porter shot 2 of 8 and Beal 4 of 12.
- Jared Dudley started for the third game in a row, but he wasn't a match for Julius Randle who feasted on the glass. Randle had 12 rebounds by halftime, five offense. By the second quarter, coach Randy Wittman went to Kris Humphries as he was more effective. He made his first three-pointer in four games. His seven points all came in the second quarter when he was a force inside getting extra chances, such as on Kelly Oubre's missed dunk on the final play for a putback. Wittman did the right thing by riding with Humphries who had nine points and four rebounds in 11 minutes.
- Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. This game got away from the Wizards in the first quarter when they botched 14-9 lead. Wall had a bad pass out of bounds, lost the ball on the next play, then Beal had a lost ball turnover and Wall another one. All came in a 1:13 span and when it was over the Wizards were down 20-14. They had a total of seven turnovers in the first 12 minutes which is why they led by double-digits until making a run late in the second quarter to trim the deficit to 57-51. With the score tied at 87 late in the fourth, the Wizards traded turnovers with the Lakers twice that ended with Bryant's three at 5:56.
- Gortat got rolling early again. He was not only connecting with Wall but beating Roy Hibbert down the floor to get in position for easy baskets. At one point he was 5 of 7, but the reason for the two misses weren't great defense. Gortat's tendency to fade away from contact resulted in making tough shots tougher. With his defender in the air he has to lean in, jump a count after his man leaves his feet and initiate the contact. Maybe Gortat's shot gets blocked anyway, but maybe he gets the whistle and two foul shots instead. His help defense on the perimeter forced D'Angelo Russell to turn it over when Washington made it's run. As well as he played for the third game in a row, he can be even better.
- Beal has had his looks but still couldn't get himself right with a favorable matchup against Jordan Clarkson. His shots aren't going down and he had five giveaways. Neither are the shots for Porter who had multiple open looks from three. Porter's fourth miss from deep was wide open and it rimmed out in the fourth. All four were uncontested.
- Last year, the Wizards switched from Beal to Paul Pierce to put more size on Bryant to slow him down. He had 0 field goals in the second half after having 20 points in the first two quarters. Wittman went to Garrett Temple, who made him take launch contested shots and he made fallaway three for a 43-25 lead. Then Oubre, who has a 7-2 wingspan and even more athletic, did a solid job containing Bryant. Oubre hadn't played this much since Nov. 27 in a blowout loss in Boston. But late, Beal couldn't do anything to bother Bryant's shot.