If there has become such a thing as a classic Los Angeles Lakers loss, Friday night was the perfect example.
The Lakers hosted the Washington Wizards in their final home game of March, and a dominant first half disappeared with a run by the road team late in the third quarter. A 103-100 loss wasn’t how the team wanted to welcome Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol back to the rotation, and it was a disappointing way to continue a push toward the postseason.
In the opening minutes of the game, L.A. looked as if it would put the Wizards away early. In the first period alone, the team scored 35 points on nearly 70 percent shooting, and a big reason for the efficiency was that Dwight Howard was a first option on multiple possessions.
The most surprising stat from the first quarter came from the bench. The reserves scored 19 points in the first 12 minutes, and with a healthy starting lineup, less pressure equaled more production from the team’s second unit.
Efficient shooting remained a theme throughout, but lackluster defense allowed Washington to climb back in it.
Los Angeles entered halftime with a 16-point lead, but that mark would be whittled down to two heading into the fourth. A late-game surge from the Wizards epitomized the Lakers’ season, as this group can look like contenders one moment and a lottery team the next.
Poor execution down the stretch put this game in Washington’s favor. It came down to a last-second heave from behind the arc, and in all-too-familiar fashion, Los Angeles dropped a contest that had once been in its control.