Kobe Bryant has 31 points in the Lakers’ win over Wizards

Kobe Bryant has 31 points in the Lakers’ win over Wizards

Lakers forward Kobe Bryant celebrates after hitting a three pointer late in the fourth quarter against the Wizards.

(Rob Carr / Getty Images)

It was like old times, Kobe Bryant scoring 31 points and getting serenaded by chants of his name as the Lakers won.

Only the old times never involved raucous road games against the Washington Wizards.

Bryant’s retirement carnival continued against a historically mundane opponent never to be confused with Boston or San Antonio in Lakers lore.

But fans came, the building was sold out, and the Lakers played an entertaining game in front of a very pro-Bryant crowd before emerging with a 108-104 victory Wednesday at Verizon Center.


Please excuse the confusion, but it felt like the Lakers were at Staples Center, except it was louder.

That’s two farewell appearances over two nights with two highly friendly and intensely appreciative East Coast crowds.

“I thought everybody hated me,” Bryant said, as surprised as anybody.

He declared his end-of-season retirement Sunday and played poorly Tuesday in front of a notoriously tough Philadelphia crowd that swooned for him.


He did not embarrass himself against the Wizards, making 10 of 24 shots and adding three assists in 36 minutes.

It was his fourth game in five nights and his best in a young season as the Lakers (3-15) ended a seven-game losing streak.

It capped a long day for Bryant, complete with five or 10 minutes of time with President Obama in the White House. The word in the Lakers locker room was that Obama signed a basketball for Bryant, not the other way around.

“We talked a lot about the game. We talked a lot about [my] future and what comes next,” Bryant said. “Very inspirational.”

It was unclear when Bryant would show at least a smidge of his former self on the court. He entered the game shooting 30.1% overall and 20.8% from three-point range.

There was no need to rush to “Kobe’s back!” territory after Wednesday’s effort. Even he probably wouldn’t recommend it.

“Legs felt strong,” he said, quickly adding, “Surprisingly so.”


The Lakers needed a victory, according to their coach.

Before the game, with a loss to formerly 0-18 Philadelphia still in their minds, Byron Scott was asked to gauge team morale.

“Down,” he said. “Very much so. And I think from Kobe all the way down to every player.”

Consider the morale boost from Jordan Clarkson, who continued to build upon his successful rookie season by scoring 18 points. Julius Randle added 15 points and 19 rebounds, an impressive seven on the offensive end.

“As a team, we’re not doing well and I’m not satisfied with that,” Randle said. “I feel like I can play a huge part in us getting better. I feel a great responsibility on myself. I know what I can do, I know how much better I can get and I’m not there yet.”

He took a nice step Wednesday.

The Lakers led at the end of the first quarter, 34-22, and Bryant was much more in control a day after launching 26 shots, an alarming 17 from three-point range. He made four of 11 from distance against the Wizards.

Toward the end of a timeout midway through the first quarter, the scoreboard showed an image of Bryant with the message: “Thank you for 20 amazing years!”


He walked on the court alone a few seconds later and received a standing ovation. He bowed to the crowd and waved.

It was brief. The game resumed quickly.

As it progressed, Bryant nailed a trademark 18-foot turnaround from the right side and later got someone to bite on his much-used pump fake. Granted, it was a rookie, Kelly Oubre, but it got him to the free-throw line.

The big points came in the end.

Bryant made a three-pointer over Bradley Beal with 58.9 seconds left for a 101-99 Lakers lead. Then he moved down the right side and pulled up for a 16-footer over Beal for a 103-101 lead.

There were “Ko-be, Ko-be” chants during a timeout called by the Wizards. Seemingly everybody was standing in the lower bowl of the arena when Lou Williams stole John Wall’s pass and made two free throws after getting fouled.

The game belonged to the Lakers. The night belonged to Bryant.

Twitter: Mike_Bresnahan

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