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Derek Fisher would like to give a piece of his 2009 NBA Championship ring to the Utah Jazz for letting him go, and to the Washington Wizards for teaching his team a lesson.
What regular season game was D-Fish speaking of in reference to the turning point of the Lakers' season? Why, an early December '08 meeting against the Washington Wizards in the Verizon Center of course.
Wiz fans don't know whether to feel good about themselves, be insulted or continue with their apathetic ways.
The Friday night Dec. 5 matchup didn't start unlike many of the other horrendous Wizards games of the '08-'09 season. The Lakers looked like they'd been studying the offense of Ed Tapscott/WesUnseld Jr. for years while the Wizards acted as if informed they'd be playing an NBA game mere minutes before tip-off.
In the game, the Wizards looked more baffled than your average NASCAR fan at a spelling bee, displaying the inability to get on the same page offensively, including failing to successfully execute a four-on-onefastbreak against the aforementioned Fisher, a 6'1", 34-year-old guard.
The Lakers brushed off the Wizards' attempts to claw within five at halftime and came out on fire in the third period, at one point building a 20 point lead with 4:30 left in the 3rd, ultimately heading into the final period with an 87-72 advantage.
Then in the crucial fourth, something happened. L.A. broke down on defense, Jackson's lineup of Jordan Farmar, Sasha Vujacic, Luke Walton, Trevor Ariza and Andrew Bynum looked worthy of an offensive Amber Alert, and second chances for Washington became abundant.
Jackson waited until the Wizards cut the lead to nine with 5:41 left before bringing Kobe back. And when he returned, the Black Mamba resorted to his ball hogging ways, taking six of the Lakers' nine field goal attempts down the stretch and only making one.
In the end, despite Kobe leaving the door open by going 1-2 from the free-throw line, giving L.A. a 106-104 lead with 12 seconds left, the little things caught up with the Wizards. After botching their initial out of bounds play, causing Tapscott to use his final timeout, Caron Butler went against the cardinal rule of going for the tie at home and attempted a three-point shot to win the game at the buzzer, missing and leaving no time for an offensive put-back chance to tie.
Fitting fashion for a team failing at simply attempting to win, the Wizards would go on to lose 49 more games. And the Lakers, well, their story is told through early season lessons learned and captured forever in the winning smile of Derek Fisher.