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Pregame: Wizards vs. Lakers

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Regular Season Game 16

L.A. Lakers (2-15) at Washington (6-7)

December 2, 2015 at 7:00 PM
Verizon Center, Washington, DC
TV: CSN Washington
Radio: 99.1FM


Last time they met was..

January 27, 2015 – Staples Center, Los Angeles: Wizards 98, Lakers 92
READ: Game Notebook 46, Wizards at Lakers: John Wall plays through pain; takes over Hollywood


What to watch

KOBE. As a lifelong Kobe hater, these last few seasons have been rough. As Kobe has begun to age, he has handled his fall with grace, humor, and an introspective attitude that has made him, dare I say, likeable.

With Kobe announcing that he will retire after this season, this game becomes a little more than Wizards versus Lakers. Twelve years ago, DC had the opportunity to host the GOAT 41 times. We have no such honor this time, as tonight, DC will host Kobe Bryant for the final time.

Through 20 seasons, Kobe has done his thing against the Wizards. He’s averaged 25.6 points, 5.3 rebounds. He’s averaged 5.8 assists and 40% from 3, both good for his best versus any opponent.

Kobe is unlikely to match any of those numbers tonight, and it doesn’t matter. The Wizards desperately need to win this game, and they better win, but the sad reality is that the stands will be packed tonight with fans who are there to boo, cheer, love, hate, and watch Kobe Bryant. And for once, that’s okay.


Key matchup

The Wizards vs. Pressure

As the losses pile up, and the Eastern Conference looks less and less charitable, the pressure is building on the Wizards to get something positive going ASAP. The Lakers SHOULD be just the remedy they need. The Lakers rank 2nd to last in defensive rating, 3rd to last in offensive rating, and are shooting a league worst 41.1% from the field. They sport a rare combination of raw youth and over-the-top age that has translated to little optimism and even less results.

However, youth has a way of playing loose while pressure has a way of tightening things up. The Wizards are going to know the importance of getting this win, with a number of tough games coming up. If the Wizards let that pressure affect them negatively, things could go sour fast. If they can rise to the occasion, they may be able to get their season back on the right track (Note: You know things are bad when beating a 2-14 team qualifies as “rising to the occasion”).


X-factor:

The greatness of Kobe Bryant.

In Michael Jordan’s final seasons with the Wizards, he was clearly not the Bulls Michael Jordan. And yet…

  • On November 16th, 2001, he dropped 44 on Utah.
  • On December 29th, 2001, he put 51 on the Charlotte Hornets, the last 50 point game of his career. The next game two nights later, he put 45 on the New Jersey Nets.
  • On January 24th, 2002, he hung 40 on the Cavs, and 41 on Suns on the 26th.
  • On January 24th, 2003, he scored 41 on the Pacers.
  • On February 1st, 2003, he scored 45 on the Hornets.
  • On February 21st, 2003, at the age of 40, vs. the New Jersey Nets, he scored 43 points against the Nets. It was his last 40 point game.

Kobe Bryant may not be great anymore, but if you think he doesn’t have one or two more special games in him, you don’t know greatness. You don’t know when Kobe will have his last 40 point game, his last 50 point game, his last game winner, his last buzzer beater, or put someone on his last poster. Maybe it’s already happened. Maybe not. But maybe tonight is one of those nights. #Sports


Fun factor:

(Arenas fans: Play that video from the beginning)


Prediction:

Kobe isn’t Kobe. The crowd cheers him like he still is, and cheers him like he deserves. And cheers a Wizards win.

we are Hoop District

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