Los Angeles Lakers at Washington Wizards
- When the Wizards beat the Lakers in their last meeting (March 7), it snapped their nine-game losing streak in this series.
- The Lakers have lost four in a row, allowing 111.8 points per game on 50.0 percent shooting during this skid. The last time the Lakers lost at least five games in a row was April 3-10, 2011 (5 straight). At 9-14, the Lakers are five games under .500 for the first time since finishing the 2004-05 season 34-48.
- The Wizards are averaging just 86.7 points per game versus teams with losing records this season. No other club is averaging less than 91.7 ppg against sub-.500 opponents.
- Kobe Bryant had 31 points in Thursday's loss to the Knicks. However, it hasn't been a good thing for the Lakers this season when Bryant scores 30+ points -- they are 1-11 in those contests. Conversely, they are 8-3 when he has less than 30 points in a game.
- Dwight Howard is shooting 49.2 percent from the free-throw line this season, after making 49.1 percent of his attempts in 2011-12. He hit 59.8 percent of his attempts in his first seven NBA seasons.
- Bradley Beal is averaging 16.0 points per game so far in December, which ranks second among rookies (Damian Lillard -- 20.2).
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- Kobe Bryant would like to see the Los Angeles Lakers play the Washington Generals next.
That won't happen but they will instead see the league's worst team that hails from the nation's capital.
The struggling Lakers have been defenseless during a four-game losing streak heading into Friday night's road matchup with the Washington Wizards.
The Lakers (9-14) fell 116-107 at New York on Thursday, allowing the Knicks to shoot 53.2 percent for the third-highest mark against them. They yielded 68 first-half points, and have given up an average of 62.3 during this slide.
"We are having a re-occurring theme that the first quarter is just not good, and then the first half is not great and in the second half we seem to turn it on, and we need to solve that problem real quick," coach Mike D'Antoni said.
Bryant scored 31 points and leads the NBA with 29.3 per game, but Los Angeles fell to 1-11 when he scores at least 30. The Lakers are trying to avoid their first five-game skid in two seasons.
"At this point I wish we had the Washington Generals on our schedule," Bryant said.
If the Lakers want to show improvement on defense, Friday presents an ideal opportunity. Washington (3-16) is last in the NBA in scoring at 90.4 points per game and field-goal percentage at 40.7.
Los Angeles had won nine straight in this series before a 106-101 defeat in the lone meeting last season March 7.
There's reason to believe that Dwight Howard, who had 20 points and seven boards Thursday, can turn in a monster effort. Howard is averaging 24.3 points on 73.4 percent shooting and 13.4 rebounds per game in his last nine against the Wizards - all victories when he played for Orlando.
Lakers forward Pau Gasol has missed the past six games with tendinitis in his knees and remains day-to-day. Former Wizards captain Antawn Jamison has started five times in his place, and finished with three points Thursday.
Los Angeles is 2-8 on the road while Washington owns the NBA's worst home mark at 2-7.
Still, the Wizards have won three times since their 0-12 start and are eager to take advantage of the Lakers' woes.
"Everybody knows they've been kind of struggling and we look forward to take advantage of that," Washington reserve guard Shaun Livingston said. "You got to come to play and we're at home and we tend to play well at home so hopefully we can come in with a lot of momentum."
The Wizards fell 99-93 at Houston on Wednesday, although their backcourt of Jordan Crawford and rookie Bradley Beal combined for 37 points.
There are signs that Crawford and Beal are gelling. Crawford is averaging 19.5 points over his last eight games while Beal is averaging 17.5 over his last four.
"He is being more aggressive and that's the main thing," said Crawford about Beal. "He's not passing up as many shots as he was early and just being aggressive. We both have good size and we both kind of do the same thing, shooting and driving. We play off each other real well."
Updated December 14, 2012