Wizards welcome Kobe, Lakers to Washington

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(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Wizards enjoyed a wire-to-wire win the previous time on the floor and look to keep the momentum going when Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers visit the Verizon Center Tuesday night.

The Wizards opened a four-game homestand with a close 83-80 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, setting themselves up for a showdown with the Southeast Division-rival Miami Heat Monday night. The Wizards got the best of the four- time defending division champs with a 107-86 decision.

Rasual Butler scored 23 points off the bench, John Wall ended with 18 points and 13 assists, and Marcin Gortat compiled 15 points and 10 rebounds. Drew Gooden chipped in 10 points for the Wizards, who shot 54.2 percent for the game, made 10-of-19 3-pointers, including the first seven, and received 54 points from the reserves.

The last time the Wizards made their first seven 3-pointers to start a game was April 15, 2000 versus Milwaukee.

"Probably our best game, from start to finish," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman.

Washington led by as many as 25 in the fourth quarter and improved to 7-2 at home, the best start as the host since 1974-75. The Wizards are averaging 99.3 points at home this season and Wall is posting 20.1 points, 10.2 assists and 5.2 rebounds at the Verizon Center.

Bradley Beal scored eight points against the Heat and is averaging 13.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists in seven games since returning from a wrist issue. Beal is one of five Wizards averaging double figures in scoring.

The Wizards, winners in two straight and four of six games, are fifth in field goal percentage (46.6) and fifth in opponents' scoring (96.0 ppg). They will welcome the Denver Nuggets to DC Friday night.

Los Angeles aims for a season best third straight win Wednesday and opened a three-game eastern jaunt with Tuesday's 106-96 triumph against the Detroit Pistons. Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer at 25.8 points, managed 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting and handed out 13 assists.

"That first half, I missed a couple of easy ones," Bryant said. "Came out in the second half and just let the game come to me. Made a couple shots. Then I was able to step on the gas a little bit."

Bryant, though, had 10 of the Lakers' 14 turnovers.

Jordan Hill had 22 points and 13 rebounds, Nick Young collected 19 points off the bench and Carlos Boozer added 10 for Los Angeles, which has won two in a row following a four-game slide and outscored Detroit, 35-20, in the third quarter. The Lakers shot 48.1 percent and made 10 of their 17 shots from beyond the arc to improve to 4-0 against the East.

Los Angeles is averaging 114.0 ppg against the East this season.

The Lakers have scored 100 or more points in three straight games and are eighth with 104.2 ppg. However, they are 29th in opponents' scoring (111.1 ppg) and teams are shooting 47.8 percent against them.

Los Angeles is 3-5 on the road and will close the trek Friday at Boston.

Washington defeated Los Angeles twice last season and has won three straight and four of the last five matchups between the teams. The Lakers have played well in the nation's capital over the past eight games, going 6-2.