Kobe Bryant took over the game by scoring 16 of his 24 points in the third quarter, and Andrew Bynum added seven points in his season debut as the visiting Los Angeles Lakers beat the undermanned Washington Wizards 103-89 last night.
Bryant scored 12 straight Lakers' points during a 17-2 third-quarter run that put the game away. The Lakers won for the fifth time in six games, including three of the first four on this seven-game East Coast road trip.
Bryant's hot streak came shortly after a dubious NBA hat trick. Fouled while attempting a three-pointer, he missed all three free throws to the boos and laughter of the Verizon Center crowd.
A few minutes later, Bryant had quieted the fans and had the large contingent of Lakers fans cheering. His fadeaway three-pointer from the left baseline rolled around the rim and fell in. Then came a three-pointer from the right baseline. Then he was fouled attempting another three, and this time he made all three free throws. Then came another three that made the score 80-64.
Bryant played only 24 minutes — scoring exactly a point per minute while he was on the floor — and finished 7-for-13 from the field, including 4-for-6 from three-point range.
Bynum, who had offseason surgery to repair a partially torn ligament in his right knee, came off the bench and played 17 minutes, shooting 1-for-5 from the field and 5-for-8 from the free throw line.
Pau Gasol added 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers, while Lamar Odom had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Shannon Brown 16 points.
Nick Young, who always seems to play well against teams from his native southern California, scored 21 points off the bench to lead the Wizards, who have lost five straight and nine of 10. Starting guards Gilbert Arenas and Kirk Hinrich combined to shoot 8-for-25 from the field.
In other games:
At Charlotte, Nazr Mohammed had 18 points and eight rebounds, Tyrus Thomas hit the go-ahead jumper with just over a minute left, and the Bobcats overcame Stephen Jackson's poor night to beat the Toronto Raptors, 97-91.
With Jackson held to seven points before fouling out, reserves played key roles as the Bobcats snapped a two-game skid. Thomas, in his return after missing two games with a sore calf, scored 14 points and his mid-range jumper with 1:20 left put Charlotte ahead to stay.
It was the Raptors' fifth loss in six games despite 17 points and nine assists from Jerryd Bayless.
At Auburn Hills, Mich., Richard Hamilton scored 24 points and Charlie Villanueva 23 in the Detroit Pistons' 103-80 romp over the Atlanta Hawks, whose Josh Smith led all scorers with 26 points.
Shaquille O'Neal is optimistic that he will be ready for tonight's game at Madison Square Garden between his Celtics and Amare Stoudemire and the red-hot Knicks. Boston coach Doc Rivers said that he would see how O'Neal comes through practice before deciding whether he'll play. O'Neal has missed the last two games with a calf injury.
Bulls guard Derrick Rose is listed as day-to-day after suffering multiple injuries in Monday's win over Indiana. Rose has a sprained right wrist, a bruised right elbow and a sore right hip. *