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Bryant, Lakers at a loss after goring by Bulls

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Bryant, Lakers at a loss after goring by Bulls

CHICAGO (AP) Off target all night, Kobe Bryant sure was on point when it was over.

His frustration stood out like a breakaway dunk, his comments sharper than any shot he took, after the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Chicago Bulls 95-83 Monday night. The Lakers have lost nine of 11 and six straight on the road.

``I remember being frustrated before, but this is different because there are so many pieces, so many things going on,'' Bryant said. ``It is a little different.''

Where to start with this one?

Well, there was Kirk Hinrich scoring a season-high 22 points, Marco Belinelli adding 15 points, and the Bulls pulling away down the stretch.

Belinelli came up big in the closing minutes, scoring eight points during an 18-4 run that broke a 75-75 tie. He started it by hitting two free throws after getting fouled by Dwight Howard with 6:54 left in the game, and wrapped two 3-pointers around a layup by Los Angeles' Earl Clark, making it 89-79 with 2:27 remaining.

The Lakers' loss came after coach Mike D'Antoni made a surprise lineup switch. He used Pau Gasol off the bench, while starting Clark because he wanted more quickness, but the slide continued on a night when Bryant and Howard were mostly nonfactors against a Bulls team without Luol Deng and still awaiting the return of Derrick Rose.

Steve Nash led the Lakers with 18 points, while Bryant finished with just 16 on 7-of-22 shooting, ending a run of 24 games with 20 or more points.

``Very, very tough, very, very frustrating, trying to keep my cool,'' Bryant said. ``It is embarrassing. It is not even embarrassing. I am a big history guy. Playing here in this arena with these incredible fans, you're in the house of MJ, Pippen, PJ (Phil Jackson) built, to put this kind of brand of basketball on the floor is just not acceptable.''

Bryant even mentioned ditching D'Antoni's up-tempo style in favor of posting up more.

``We're going to have to look at some things,'' he said. ``We're going to have to change something. Probably going to have to post the ball a lot more, slow the game down a lot more. That's just my intuition, but that's my gut right now. I have to take a look at the film again, but we're definitely going to have to change something.''

Howard had just eight points and nine rebounds while picking up five fouls. Clark and Metta World Peace scored 12 apiece, and Gasol added 15 points and 12 rebounds in his new reserve role.

``It isn't against him, it's better for us right now,'' D'Antoni said of Gasol before the game. ``We're going to try to work through it and see what we can do. Things do change, things happen, I can't see the future but we're ready to go forward.''

The move caught Gasol off guard.

``I have no idea,'' he said when asked about his future in Los Angeles. ``I can't really worry about something that is out of my hands so I am just going to stay positive and do my best, but it is not something I am too thrilled about. I wasn't expecting it. But right now we have bigger things to worry about as a group. As a team player that's what I'm most concerned about.''

Hinrich hit 9 of 11 shots and nailed three 3-pointers. Belinelli and Nate Robinson (11 points) also hit three, and the Bulls were 9 of 17 overall from long range.

Joakim Noah added 13 rebounds and a season-best six blocks after sitting out the final 22 minutes, 53 seconds of Saturday's loss to Memphis. He blamed himself for the benching the other night, saying, ``That was all me.''

Noah was angry at coach Tom Thibodeau for taking him out of the game and acknowledged saying some things he regretted. He wouldn't say if he and Thibodeau discussed the incident, but he made it clear he had no one to blame but himself.

``I admit it,'' he said. ``It was my fault. I shouldn't have said the things that I said.''

Carlos Boozer chipped in with 14 points and six rebounds. Richard Hamilton scored 13, although he shot just 6 of 18. Jimmy Butler, making his second straight start with Deng (sore right hamstring) sidelined, scored 10 while trying to guard Bryant. And Chicago won this one in regulation after playing three straight overtime games.

NOTES: Thibodeau said Rose is ``very close'' to starting full contact drills in practice, the next step in the star point guard's recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Could it happen this week? ``Yeah - it could,'' Thibodeau said. Is it scheduled to happen this week? Thibodeau said, ``It could.'' He also said Rose will have to go through full-contact drills ``for an extended amount of time'' and that he won't be playing after ``one or two days of contact.''

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Wizards barely put up a fight vs. Raptors after Bradley Beal's strong comments

Wizards barely put up a fight vs. Raptors after Bradley Beal's strong comments

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 140-111 on Friday night on the road. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. In case anyone was wondering how the Wizards would respond to Bradley Beal's strong comments about the team's culture, the answer is not well.

The Wizards barely put up a fight against the Toronto Raptors in a lopsided loss. They lost by 29 and trailed by as many as 33.

One reason was they committed 28 turnovers. They also allowed the Raptors to make 22 threes. That's the third-most allowed in one game by the Wizards in franchise history.

This was the Wizards' 41st game of the season. With a 13-28 record, they are on pace to win 26 games.

2. The Wizards didn't just lose this game, they may have lost backup shooting guard Jordan McRae for an extended period of time.

McRae stepped on a shoe at midcourt and rolled his left ankle. He immediately went down in obvious pain and had to be carried off the floor and into the locker room. 

It was reminiscent of the ankle injury Garrison Mathews suffered nearly two weeks ago. That one fortunately did not result in a fracture or ligament damage. He just had a bad ankle sprain.

Just like Mathews, McRae suffered his injury at a time when he was playing well and really coming into his own. Tough timing.

3. There weren't many positives for the Wizards in this one, but Isaac Bonga certainly was one. The second-year wing dropped a career-high 17 points to go along with 10 rebounds and a steal. Five of his rebounds were on the offensive end.

Bonga shot 6-for-9 from the field and hit two threes. His continued development as a scorer has been impressive to watch this season.

4. Davis Bertans is such a good shooter that when he releases the ball, it is expected to go in. Even rarer, it seems, he misses two in a row.

Every once in a while, once in a blue moon, he has a legitimate off-shooting night. Friday was one of those nights. Bertans had 12 points and shot 3-for-11 from three.

Per usual of late, Bertans wasn't exactly open due to his place on the scouting report but he got decent looks. Many of his threes clanged off the front of the rim. 

Maybe he had tired legs. Whatever it was, the Latvian Laser didn't have it like he usually does.

5. The Isaiah Thomas experience has not been good as of late. The Wizards point guard at another bad game, this time with eight points in 16 minutes.

He just looked off; sluggish and making mental mistakes. That included two turnovers in the first quarter when he passed the ball as the shot clock expired.

Those decisions were inexcusable and in his last 10 games, Thomas has averaged 8.5 points while shooting 34.4 percent. He has not been the same guy since coming back from his calf injury in mid-December. But it's been more than physical. His head hasn't seemed to be in the game like it was earlier this season.

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Bradley Beal records an impressive four-point play against the Raptors

Bradley Beal records an impressive four-point play against the Raptors

Bradley Beal emphasized the Wizards' need to start winning games and changing the culture after the team's 115-106 loss to the Bulls on Wednesday night. Two nights later, Washington responded with an opening half riddled with turnovers, which led to a deficit that grew to as high as 24 points before halftime.

In the third quarter, the Wizards began to make a charge, highlighted by Beal's four-point play after draining a three while drawing contact.

Raptors forward Serge Ibaka closed out too aggressively on Beal and landed on the guard's foot. The officials assessed a flagrant one foul to Ibaka for not allowing space to land, and Beal converted the ensuing free throw. 

Beal's four-point play cut the Wizards' deficit to 77-64 and was the start of an 8-0 run that cut the Raptors' lead to single-digits at 77-68.

But Toronto answered back quickly, reeling off an 8-0 spurt of its own to build the lead back up and pull away for a commanding 140-111 win. Beal finished with 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting, including 3-for-6 from beyond the arc. 

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