The last time the Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers met, Gilbert Arenas’ career game led the Wizards to victory in Los Angeles, and Lakers star Kobe Bryant was a little bitter about the result.
Bryant has a chance for revenge Saturday at the Verizon Center as two of the premier scorers in the league meet as Los Angeles plays Washington.
On Dec. 17, Arenas scored a franchise-record 60 points in the Wizards’ 147-141 overtime victory over the Lakers (28-19), the most points scored against the Los Angeles franchise since Wilt Chamberlain had a 65-point outing in 1966.
Arenas went 17-of-32 from the floor, and had 16 points in the 5-minute extra period, including 14 in a row for Washington (27-18) during one stretch.
After the Kobe-like performance at the Staples Center, Bryant didn’t seem all that impressed.
“Some of the shots he took tonight, you miss those, they’re just terrible shots, just awful. You make them and they’re unbelievable shots.” said Bryant, who scored 45 points in that game.
He added, “He doesn’t seem to have much of a conscience,” and warned, “I’ll be ready next time.”
Arenas is also ready and waiting for the rematch.
“I’m going to do what I do: I’m going to attack him,” he said.
He also added under the heading “Lakers and Kobe Up Next” on his NBA.com blog, saying, “I’m going back to the Hibachi days,” a reference to the hot grill he likens himself to when his game heats up.
Arenas and Bryant each lead the league in 50-point games with three apiece, and Arenas is second in the league with a 29.5-point scoring average, while Bryant ranks fifth at 28.6.
Arenas and Washington have had the upper hand in this series over the past three seasons, though.
The Wizards have won four of the last five games over the Lakers, including the last two in Washington.
A victory in this game would give the Wizards just their second season sweep over Los Angeles in franchise history. The first came in 2004-05.
Arenas, who is heading to his third All-Star game, and first as a starter, is averaging 36.2 points in his last five games against the Lakers, scoring better than 34 points in three of those games.
The Wizards guard had 27 points in their 119-109 loss to Toronto on Wednesday, just its second defeat in the last nine games.
Since its last game, Washington has experienced a roller coaster of emotions.
On Thursday, the team learned coach Eddie Jordan and forward Caron Butler would join Arenas on the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but found out Friday forward Antawn Jamison will be sidelined three-to-six weeks with a sprained left knee.
Jamison, who is averaging 19.3 points and 7.9 rebounds, was injured when he banged knees with teammate DeShawn Stevenson in the first quarter of Tuesday’s win over Detroit
“We have to find a way to win without Antawn,” said center Brendan Haywood, who said he had a lot less room to maneuver on Wednesday without Jamison drawing coverage to the 3-point line.
The Lakers lost to Indiana 95-84 on Friday, as Bryant had 22 points on 7-of-25 shooting from the field.
“The ball wouldn’t go in for me,” he said. “Tonight was just one of those nights where nothing seemed to go right.”
Bryant is averaging 34.0 points in his last five games, including two 40-point efforts in that stretch.
He’s averaging 34.2 points on 46.2 percent (18-of-39) shooting from 3-point range in his last five games against the Wizards, being held to less than 30 points in just one of those games.
Los Angeles, which has lost six of its last eight on the road, is 1-2 thus far on its season-high eight-game road trip.
Washington, meanwhile, has won 11 of its last 12 games at the Verizon Center, and its 18-4 home record is the best in the East.