Even when the Wizards don’t play their best, they’re still winning by double-digits which was the case after they held on in Thursday’s 116-108 win over the L.A. Lakers for their 16th win in a row at Verizon Center in front of 16,473 -- the second-longest home winning streak in franchise history.
When the Lakers (17-35) were here last season, in Kobe Bryant’s final game on this floor, the Wizards underperformed in one of their worst losses in front of a pro-Lakers crowd.
Almost everything was the same except the Wizards (29-20) won despite an uncomfortable finish. They lost a chunk of what had been a 19-point lead in the third quarter when a dunk from Luol Deng cut the deficit to 67-60. Then a turnover led to a lob dunk for Larry Nance to get it to 91-78 with 9:58 left.
John Wall (33 points, 11 assists), however, scored 16 in the fourth to lead all scorers with his 29th double-double, followed by Bradley Beal (23 points, four assists) and Marcin Gortat (21 points, 14 rebounds) with his 28th double-double. Markieff Morris (12 points, 11 rebounds, three steals, two blocks) and Otto Porter (11 points, six rebounds) came alive in the second half when their production was needed most.
D’Angelo Russell (17 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds) led the Lakers followed by Jordan Clarkson (20 points), Deng (17 points), Lou Williams (15 points) and Tarik Black (13 points, 11 rebounds).
--The Wizards led just 31-29 after the first quarter when they allowed 12-for-22 shooting, 54.5%, and 5 of 12 from three, or 41.7%. Then the game turned because of a second unit. When Beal returned at 8:03, the Wizards were up 39-31. When Wall and Gortat re-entered at 6:37, it was 42-33. In that stretch Kelly Oubre made a 6-footer and a 19-footer. Trey Burke and Jason Smith had layups and the Lakers went cold. The second unit, however, wasn’t as efficient to begin the fourth quarter.
-- The Lakers had 15 first-half turnovers that produced 17 points the other way. Russell had five giveaways in the first half alone and finished with seven. Williams came off the bench had three in just nine minutes of the first half with his only field goal coming on a contested three by Oubre. But the Lakers were more responsible with the ball in the second half where they only committed five to get back into the game.
--Beal appeared to be on his way to setting a career-high for three-pointers, eclipsing his mark set earlier this season vs. the Sacramento Kings when he made seven. He was 5-for-6 in the first half but lost his touch. He has had six made threes twice, in a loss at the Boston Celtics and in a win over the L.A. Clippers.
--The open looks were there for Morris and Porter, but they only combined to make 1 of 8 three-pointers in the first half for a total of seven points. Still, the Wizards led 58-44 because of their superior guard play of Wall and Beal combining for 29. Porter heated up in the third quarter with a pair of treys to get the lead back up to double digits. Morris compensated for his 3-for-14 shooting by going 6-for-8 from the foul line and coming up with key rebounds and a block of Larry Nance at the rim that put the Wizards in transition for a 101-93 lead.
--The Lakers came out aggressive in the third by denying passing lanes and handoffs as they were able to disrupt the Wizards’ rhythm and pace. They got the deficit down and even got even at 91 but couldn’t keep Gortat off the glass or stop the pick-and-roll. He shot 10-for-13 after entering the game shooting 81% from the field in his previous four games.
--Perhaps the key sequence of the game came at 4:38 after Morris missed a dunk and the Wizards ahead just 101-96. The botched play put Russell in transition. Porter and Beal hustled back and Beal swatted it off the backboard. Deng recovered the ball and tried to drive but Gortat was there for the charge. The next time down the floor, Morris converted a lob dunk to make up for it.
-- Timofey Mozgov, who signed for $64 million with Los Angeles last summer, had as many points as Ian Mahinmi. Mozgov missed his only shot and was held scoreless in 17 minutes as a starter. Mahinmi, who also signed for the same amount but has been out injured all season for the Wizards except for one game, could be near a return.