A 5-5 record over a 10-game span would hardly be cause for concern for most NBA teams, but the Los Angeles Lakers have shown a few flaws since they’ve had to spend much of their time away from Staples Center.
A trip to the nation’s capital could get them headed in the right direction.
The Lakers look to avoid a seventh loss in nine road games Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards, who wrap up a six-game homestand trying to snap a three-game skid.
Los Angeles (33-11) took full advantage of playing 17 of its first 21 games at home, and even looked good on its first lengthy road trip in mid-December, winning four of five.
It’s been a different story for the Lakers on the road lately, however. They’ve lost six of eight after falling 106-105 to Toronto on Sunday and dropping to 1-2 on their current eight-game trip.
“We’re going through a malaise a little bit,” Kobe Bryant(notes) said after finishing with 27 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists but missing a potential game-winning jumper. “Things have kind of plateaued right now. At this stage of the season it happens, but you’ve still got to put a whole lot of effort and kick it into high gear and get it going.”
The Lakers’ mediocre stretch has coincided with Bryant being banged up, but the reigning Finals MVP hasn’t taken a game off despite a broken finger and a sore lower back. He’s been held to 20.5 points on 38.1 percent shooting over his last eight contests.
While Los Angeles is going through a recent rough patch, it’s been that way all season for the Wizards (14-29). Despite playing 10 of 14 games at home, Washington is 3-7 at the Verizon Center, including three straight losses.
The Wizards shot 39.5 percent for the second straight game Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers, and were outscored 21-10 in the fourth quarter of a 92-78 loss.
They’ve also struggled at the start of games. Washington has been outscored by an average of 8.7 points in the first quarter of its past three losses.
“It’s not like we’re doing it on purpose,” said Antawn Jamison(notes), who’s been held to 11.7 points per game and 35.0 percent shooting in that stretch. “If I knew the answer to it, the solution to it, it would have been done a long time ago. We preach about it before every game, and we still get the same results.”
Aside from Jamison’s struggles, the Wizards’ bench hasn’t stepped up. Washington’s reserves are among the league’s least productive (24.8 ppg), and they were held to 19 against the Clippers - the sixth time this month they’ve scored 20 points or fewer.
“Our bench, they talk about playing and wanting to play - they’ve had opportunities,” coach Flip Saunders said. “They continue to not produce.”
The Lakers’ bench hasn’t been much better, averaging 25.8 points. Lamar Odom(notes) has averaged 11.4 points as a starter but just 7.5 as a reserve, which he’s been for the past five games with Pau Gasol(notes) now healthy.
Los Angeles is 14-2 when Odom scores 11 or more.
The Lakers have won five in a row against Washington - three at the Verizon Center - and they’ve won the last three without much from Bryant. He’s averaged 20.0 points and shot 30.8 percent.
Andrew Bynum(notes) keyed last season’s two-game sweep, averaging 21.0 points and 12.0 rebounds, though Wizards center Brendan Haywood(notes) - averaging 11.4 points and 12.3 boards in his last 10 games - was inactive for both meetings.