Trauma of collapse confronts Wizards

Roughing up by Lakers hurts, and healing time short with Kings next

Pro Basketball

February 14, 2002|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

LOS ANGELES - This one could leave a mark.

One-third of the way through the third period Tuesday night, the Washington Wizards seemingly had everything in place for a win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the two-time defending NBA champions - and at the Staples Center before a nationally televised audience.

With Shaquille O'Neal dressed in street clothes, nursing an arthritic right big toe, the Wizards had a 20-point lead with 7:40 to go in the third, and looked poised to record perhaps their biggest win of the season.

But by the end of the quarter, Washington had squandered that big advantage, on the way to perhaps the most stinging loss of the season, a 103-94 setback at the start of the second portion of the season and of a three-game Western swing.

"It's a great lesson for our guys," said Wizards coach Doug Collins. "I told our guys after the game, this is a great way to gauge yourself, even without Shaq. You're talking about guys out there that have championship rings, and know what it takes. Hopefully, we can learn from this and be better from it."

One of Washington's first lessons had better be how to play physically. The Lakers, off two flagrant fouls, manhandled the Wizards.

"To lose a 20-point lead, it has to come from a defensive standpoint or their pressure," said Michael Jordan, who had a team-high 22 points, but shot only 8-for-20.

"It just totally knocked us out of our rhythm in terms of what we were doing at the time. We were moving the ball well, penetrating, everybody was involved. Their defense stepped it up and we just never got in sync. They just knocked us totally out of our offense."

Richard Hamilton seemed most affected by the Lakers' defensive intensity. Hamilton, who was 6-for-8 in the first quarter, had just five points after that, shooting 1-for-9 and finishing with 17 points.

Most of the credit for Hamilton's problems can be attributed to Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. Booed at Sunday's All-Star-Game in Philadelphia, Bryant started slowly last night, then appeared to take it out on the Wizards in general and Hamilton in particular.

Bryant, who faced Hamilton in high school in Pennsylvania, recorded his third career triple double, with a game-high 23 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 15 assists, and played superb defense against Hamilton, at times pushing around the wiry Washington guard."[It was] the physical nature of it," said Collins. "Kobe really got into his body and did a great job of fighting off screens."

The unrelenting NBA schedule won't give the Wizards much of a chance to lick their wounds. Washington will play Sacramento tonight in a nationally televised rematch with the Kings, whom they beat, 108-101, last Thursday.

However, tonight's game will be at raucous ARCO Arena, where the Kings have won their past 19 and are 26-1, losing only to the Dallas Mavericks in overtime in early December.

In other words, a hangover from Tuesday is the last thing the Wizards need.

"This [the Lakers loss] is a learning experience," said Jordan. "I think we learned against a team that's probably a championship-quality team, even without Shaq. These guys have gone through some experiences that probably only a few of us have experience with. It's a great lesson for us." Tuesday's late game Lakers 103, Wizards 94

FG FT Reb

Washington Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Jordan 41 8-20 6-8 0-5 6 1 22

Jones 35 5-8 6-7 1-8 2 3 17

White 25 2-2 2-2 3-7 0 2 6

RHamilton 36 7-17 3-4 0-2 6 5 17

Whitney 25 3-9 2-2 0-1 3 0 11

Lue 16 2-6 0-0 0-2 2 2 5

Haywood 18 1-2 2-2 1-4 0 4 4

Nesby 26 4-9 2-2 2-4 1 1 10

Alexander 1 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0

Laettner 9 1-3 0-0 1-3 0 0 2

Davis 8 0-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0

Totals 240 33-77 23-27 8-37 20 18 94

Percentages: FG .429, FT .852. 3-Point Goals: 5-16, .312 (Whitney 3-8, Jones 1-1, Lue 1-3, Davis 0-1, R.Hamilton 0-1, Nesby 0-2). Team Rebounds: 11. Blocked Shots: 3 (White, Haywood, Jordan). Turnovers: 9 (Jordan 4, Haywood 2, Whitney, Lue, Laettner). Steals: 3 (Jordan 2, White). Technical Fouls: None. Flagrant fouls: Nesby, 4:49 third.

L.A. Lakers Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS

Fox 29 4-9 0-0 1-3 2 5 10

Madsen 22 2-3 1-2 1-3 3 1 5

Walker 32 4-4 1-2 2-5 1 1 9

Bryant 43 9-20 5-9 1-11 15 3 23

Fisher 25 7-16 0-0 0-2 1 1 16

Medvedenko 15 2-8 0-0 4-7 1 4 4

Horry 26 2-5 0-0 4-6 1 0 6

George 14 3-5 0-1 1-3 2 4 7

Hunter 12 6-10 0-0 1-3 1 0 13

Richmond 9 2-5 0-0 0-1 0 2 4

Shaw 13 2-4 0-0 0-0 2 0 6

Totals 240 43-89 7-14 15-44 29 21 103

Percentages: FG .483, FT .500. 3-Point Goals: 10-22, .455 (Horry 2-3, Fox 2-4, Shaw 2-4, Fisher 2-6, George 1-2, Hunter 1-2, Bryant 0-1). Team Rebounds: 9. Blocked Shots: 3 (Bryant, Walker, Medvedenko). Turnovers: 7 (Bryant 2, Fox 2, Walker, Medvedenko, Richmond). Steals: 4 (Horry, Bryant, Fisher, Hunter). Technical Fouls: defensive three second, 2:30 second; defensive three second, 10:13 fourth. Flagrant fouls: Madsen, 9:43 third; Bryant, 9:11 third.

Washington 25 23 26 20 - 94

L.A. Lakers 16 19 42 26 - 103

A-18,997 (18,997). T-2:16. Officials-Ted Bernhardt, Ron Olesiak, Rodney Mott.

Wizards tonight

Opponent: Sacramento Kings

Site: ARCO Arena, Sacramento, Calif.

Time: 9

TV/Radio: CSN/WTEM (980 AM)

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