October 19, 2019

Washington Wizards Game 16 Recap: In Kobe’s last game in DC, Wiz cannot spoil the retirement tour

(Photo by: @NBA)

(Photo by: @NBA)

VERIZON CENTER GIVES NBA LEGEND A FOND FAREWELL IN FINAL GAME IN DC

In what will be Kobe Bryant’s final game played in Washington D.C., barring a “Brett Favre moment,” the Washington Wizards were extremely grateful for everything he did for the sport in this generation. That being said, Bradley Beal was very clear that the Wizards would go to work on the third-leading scorer in league history as it was still an important game for the Wizards.

With a large contingent of Lakers and/or Kobe fans in the building, there were cheers in Verizon Center anytime he touched the ball. In another volume shooting night where Bryant was also an efficient scorer, he scored 31 points on 24 shots and  Washington could not hit big shots late, falling 108-104.

“He decided to be the young Kobe tonight,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “Hats off to him. This is probably the best he’s played this year, and it had to be against us, but again, that’s the greatness of who he is.”

Wizards guard Garrett Temple might have said it best.

“Every road game, especially if Kobe is going to play, is going to be an emotional game, especially here in DC, such a transient city. People are going to come out and support him. At the end of the day, we had a letdown, coming off the effort that we had last night in Cleveland. There is no way that we should be down 18, 20 points to a team that has 15 or 16 losses. It’s really just a matter of us just giving a team hope and not coming out and playing the way we should be from the start and then having an uphill climb.”

Washington got off to another good start offensively on their second game of a back-to-back, similarly to the Lakers. Good defense and eight combined points from the House of Guards gave the Wizards a 14-7 lead to open the game. Then six turnovers between said House of Guards allowed for the Lakers to go off for a quick 13-0 run. Verizon Center hit 110.4 dB when Kobe Bryant hit a patented step-back jumper as well as a 3 less than a minute later. Even when Bryant came out with 4:22 left in the quarter, the Lakers extended that same run to a 27-6 mark. Thanks to Los Angeles’ hot shooting (14 of 27), Washington was in a 34-22 deficit after the first quarter.

The Lakers generated a 43-25 lead with 9:02 left in the half, and it looked like Washington did not know how to play the same defense they did Tuesday against the Cavaliers. Every time Washington tried to cut into the double-digit deficit, Los Angeles responded. It helped when three straight turnovers by Washington led directly to buckets as Wizards were seemingly back to their sloppy ways. Rookie Kelly Oubre Jr. played some defense on the future Hall of Famer and it wasn’t any worse than any of the other Wizards experiments. Washington responded with a 17-4 run to cut the deficit to 57-51 at halftime.

Continuing the momentum from the end of the first half, Washington came out on a 11-4 run to briefly recapture the lead. The Wizards matched their field goal attempts from beyond the arc in the first half (7) within the first minutes of the second half. Los Angeles held the 78-75 advantage headed into the fourth quarter.

Washington’s second unit came up with better hustle to start the fourth quarter on a much needed 11-4 run. Midway through a quarter, during a screaming match between fans from both sides, chaos broke out on the court after the teams combined for three turnovers, a missed alley-oop, and finally a wide open Kobe 3-pointer. John Wall, already having notched his second straight double-double, responded with twelve straight points of his own as he tried to take over the game.

(Photo by: @NBA)

(Photo by: @NBA)

With Wall on Kobe and Kobe on Wall, the Black Mamba dropped back-to-back jumpers for five straight points. With Washington needing a bucket with 30 seconds to play, Wall committed his fifth crucial turnover to give Los Angeles the win. The Wizards could not get back to .500 by dropping to the team that gave the Philadelphia 76ers their first win of the season Tuesday night.

Postgame, Kobe Bryant called John Wall’s jump shot off one dribble “beautiful” and something that can take him to the next level with his speed. On the level of support from a fairly pro-Lakers crowd, Bryant said, “It was really great. It was fun. Felt really good to play the game in front of the fans, and have that amount of appreciation and love is just a really beautiful feeling.”

In his last game in Washington D.C., “young Kobe” led the Lakers over the Wizards in a game the home team should not have lost.

“I just think, again, lackadaisical coming out again,” Wittman said. “We can’t play the last two games the way we’ve played with the intensity and focus that we have and then start a game in the first half like this, where we get down 19-20. It doesn’t matter who you are playing in this league. You get down 20, there is very seldom that you come back and win. The percentage of that happening is not very high.

Washington will take on the Phoenix Suns from Verizon Center on Friday with tip off at 7 pm.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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  1. […] to figure out so far this season. They beat the best team in the Eastern Conference on the road, lost to Kobe Bryant and the lottery bound Lakers, and then win a crazy game against the Suns. With the Washington […]

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