The Wizards went toe-to-toe with LeBron James and the defending champion Lakers Monday night, fighting back from a 17-point deficit to force overtime and eventually take the game in the extra frame.
Washington has now won five games in a row and continues to take down some of the best teams in the league. Next up, the Clippers in the same building on a back-to-back.
Wizards extend the streak
Somehow, someway, the Wizards keep on winning. This one was arguably the best one yet, too. Down 14 at the half to the defending champion Lakers, Washington overcame a bunch of turnovers and a brick-fest from 3-point land to come back and secure their first five-game winning streak in three years.
They're now winners of five straight and firmly in the mix for the play-in tournament in the Eastern Conference. After a brutal stretch dealing with a coronavirus outbreak and the fallout from missing several key players for three weeks, the Wizards are healthy and rolling as the All-Star break approaches. Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers won't make things easy on Tuesday, though.
Montrezl Harrell was a handful
With Anthony Davis out, the one guy the Wizards couldn't let get hot was Montrezl Harrell. Part of the reigning Sixth Man of the Year's value to this Lakers team is his ability to fill a scoring void in moments when Davis or LeBron James aren't on the floor and he did just that in this game.
Harrell finished with 26 points and nine rebounds on 10-of-17 shooting, dominating the Wizards at the rim and in the mid-range area on the baseline. Moe Wagner is the most mobile big the Wizards have and got caught up in foul trouble early in the first half and then Harrell started to get going against Robin Lopez.
One of the tenants of playing against LeBron James is to keep his supporting cast in check. James prefers to make plays for his teammates, so when the defense can't afford to devote all of their resources to stop him, he'll start shredding you.
The Wizards are legitimately frisky
When the Wizards defend, they can play with anyone. So even though the Lakers were missing Davis, the Wizards stayed in a game they had no business being in against the defending champs. They struggled to knock down shots beyond the arc, fell down by as many as 17 points, but they got to the line, forced turnovers and punished the Lakers defense inside to make it a slugfest down the stretch.
Playing the best teams in the league tells you where you are in your own process. After this one, the Wizards can feel pretty good about their group's potential.
No threes, no problem
The Wizards have been struggling behind the 3-point line for a couple of weeks now, but it hasn't seemed to impact their ability to win games. In an age of basketball where teams routinely live or die by the 3-pointer, the Wizards are turning to points in the paint to carry their offense.
Russell Westbrook is finally driving to the rim consistently and not settling for too many jumpers, while Robin Lopez and Rui Hachimura have found success scoring in the pick and roll or on cuts. Bradley Beal's smooth mid-range game doesn't hurt either.
At some point, the triples are going to start falling, and when they do, the Wizards will find themselves in a situation with a dynamic offense that can beat you in a multitude of ways.
If you're a fan of beautiful basketball with crisp passes, made shots and a steady flow to the game, this wasn't the one for you. Both the Wizards and Lakers struggled to hold onto the ball in this one, combining for 36 turnovers when it was all said and done.
Surprisingly enough, James was particularly careless with the ball. He totaled eight giveaways on the night and didn't look as aggressive as he's been all season. The physical toll of carrying a team at his age without Davis could have played a factor here, but the Wizards didn't make things easy on him.
With Westbrook's ability to attack the rim in transition and Davis Bertans' expertise in knocking down trailer 3-pointers, the Wizards are a dangerous team when they turn their opponent over.
Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 9 p.m. on Tuesday for full coverage of the Wizards' next game against the Los Angeles Clippers