for this game

Balanced attack helps Lakers throttle Wizards

Jan 23, 2009 - 7:54 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Lakers have been making a point of sharing the ball. Their opponents are having a difficult time figuring out who to stop.

Andrew Bynum finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds, leading a balanced attack as the Lakers cruised to a 117-97 victory over the Washington Wizards on Thursday.

Los Angeles racked up a season-high 35 assists en route to its fifth consecutive win over the lowly Wizards.

"We went out there today and moved the ball," Bynum said. "Everybody got shots."

Pau Gasol scored 18 points and Lamar Odom added 16 off the bench as six players scored in double figures for the Lakers, who built a 25-point lead by halftime.

"We're going through a stretch right now where teams are trying new things defensively against us to see what works," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "And we're making them pay."

With the Boston Celtics (36-9) defeating the Orlando Magic (33-9) earlier in the day, the Lakers (34-8) regained the NBA's best record based on winning percentage at .809.

Bynum strung together his second dominant outing in as many nights, hitting 8-of-12 shots from the field and 7-of-8 free throws. The big man was coming off a career-high 42 points and 15 rebounds against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

"This year, for the first part of the year, I was kind of the last guy up-and-down the court," Bynum said. "The team would be taking off on offense I would be there three seconds after. Now, I give myself more opportunities by being down there early."

Bryant scored 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting and added five assists in his second game since dislocating his right ring finger Monday. The reigning MVP played just 28 minutes and sat out the fourth quarter with the outcome all but wrapped up.

Wizards Coach Ed Tapscott was clearly impressed with the way the Lakers - particularly their star - kept each other involved.

"I watch Kobe Bryant, who is clearly one of the most dominant scorers in basketball today and maybe all-time, make sure that every guy on the floor got shots," Tapscott said. "I watched him when he could've taken shots at any time, but made sure his teammates got shots so that they were in the game.

"I kept making that point to some of our young guys - watch how they share the ball. So that is impressive team spirit that I hope our guys were impressed by."

Antawn Jamison led the way with 19 points for the Wizards, who suffered another defeat away from home. They are currently tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder with a league-worst 3-17 mark on the road.

"It's not a wasted season at all," Wizards forward Dominic McGuire said. "Young players are getting valuable experience right now, something we wouldn't be getting if we had everybody on this team healthy."

The Wizards were without Gilbert Arenas (left knee), Brendan Haywood (right wrist), DeShawn Stevenson (lower back) and Etan Thomas (MCL).

The Lakers led, 72-47, at the break, shooting 69 percent (27-of-39) while setting season highs for both points and field-goal percentage in a half.

Ahead by five points just minutes into the second quarter, the Lakers built the lead into double digits courtesy of a 10-0 run.

"We were able to jump on them early in the second quarter and maintain that lead the rest of the game," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.

Trevor Ariza pushed the advantage to 62-42 on a 3-pointer with 3:07 remaining in the quarter before Bynum closed out the half with an uncontested slam following a steal at midcourt by Ariza.

Los Angeles led by as many as 36 points on Sasha Vujacic's layup with 2:09 left in the third, carrying a 97-68 lead into the fourth.