Washington was again plagued by injuries coming into Friday night's contest. Bradley Beal remained sidelined with a sprained left ankle, the same one that had kept him out five games to start the month. Beal had suffered his latest injury in an attempt to block Shannon Brown's fast-break layup late in Wednesday night's victory over Phoenix. Washington was also without Emeka Okafor, who missed his second straight game with the flu, and A.J. Price, who continues to be sidelined with a sore right groin.
Meanwhile, the Lakers, who had been struggling with injuries all season, saw the return of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to the lineup. Bryant had missed the last two games with a sprained ankle. Gasol, on the other hand, had missed the last twenty games with a torn plantar fascia. For Los Angeles, a team still very much fighting for its playoff lives, it was the first time that Gasol, Bryant, Dwight Howard, and Steve Nash were on the court together since January 30th. Antawn Jamison would leave tonight's game with a sprained right wrist, and did not return.
The Wizards trailed 57-41 at the half, but managed to come back and take the lead with 8:52 left in the game on a Trevor Ariza driving layup. Nene put Washington up for good on a bank hook shot with 1:23 remaining. Later, after two John Wall free throws that put the Wizards up by 3 with 1.5 seconds to go, Kobe, who had just drained an off-balance triple on the previous L.A. possession to cut the lead to 1, had one last chance to tie the game, but missed on a three-point attempt, and Washington held on for a 103-100 victory over the Lakers.
|Wizards forward Nene, left, is congratulated by teammate John Wall during Washington's 103-100 victory over the Lakers (Photo by USA TODAY Sports)|
Kobe Bryant paced the Lakers with 21 points and 11 assists in his return from injury. Dwight Howard had a double-double, adding 20 points and 15 rebounds in the loss.
Washington will continue its West-coast trip tomorrow in Oakland, as they take on the Golden State Warriors.