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December 15, 2012

Lakers escape Wizards

WASHINGTON — All smiles after an all-too-rare victory, Kobe Bryant got a locker-room visit from Attorney General Eric Holder, who wanted to know how the Los Angeles Lakers’ point-guard-by-default was holding up.

“I’m beat up,” replied Bryant, who sat at his locker with a cold pack on his bothersome back, wraps on both knees and feet in a plastic tub filled with water and ice. “Trucking along, though.”

Straining to work out the kinks in an offense coach Mike D’Antoni compared to dancing with two left feet, the Lakers ended a four-game losing streak by holding off the worst-in-the-NBA Washington Wizards 102-96 on Friday night, thanks in large part to Bryant’s 30 points and seven assists, along with Jodie Meeks’ 24 points.

“We’re not there yet, we’re not even close. We’re not close to being a good team,” said D’Antoni, who at one point stomped his foot in anger at his 10-14 club. “But can you build on it? I hope so.”

He also called his players “lackadaisical” and “lethargic.”

Bryant made only 9 of 29 shots, and he took one particularly painful tumble to the court, but his performance also included one real highlight-reel play. With a little under 11⁄2 minutes left, he sneaked in from the 3-point arc to tip in a missed free throw by Dwight Howard, who was 4 for 8 at the line and finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

“All night, I’m missing easy shots left and right, and I have no idea how that one went in,” Bryant said.

Howard kiddingly called it “a set play ... called ‘12 Miss,”’ a reference to his uniform number.

He and Bryant appeared to get into a heated exchange on court during a break in the action; Howard said they were discussing defensive strategy after a breakdown.

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