John Wall delivered a masterful performance in Washington’s 128-110 rout of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was aggressive from the opening tip en route to a 40 point, 14 assist, three steal, and two block outing. Bradley Beal provided 25 points and Washington got 20 points a piece from Jeff Green and Sam Dekker. For Los Angeles, the only bright spots were Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (25 points) and Kyle Kuzma (20 points). Also making the most of their minutes were Lance Stephenson and Moritz Wagner. LeBron James had 13 points and six rebounds, he had more turnovers than assists (four to three) in his 32 minutes of action.
The Lakers were on the second night of a back-to-back, but that wasn’t an excuse for the lack of energy from the opening tip. Their biggest problem was keeping Wall out of the paint and finding a way to match his intensity. The Wizards fed off this aggressive version of John, the trade they made over the weekend is still pending so they were shorthanded in the win as well.
DMV native Josh Hart scored the opening points of the game, then Washington went on a 12-4 run. The Wizards were disruptive on defense and did a good job completing those defensive possessions with the ball. They led the battle on the glass 9-4 early on, Wall was dynamic with 12 points. He was attacking, similar to the Celtics game and the Lakers couldn’t keep anyone in front of him. Troy Brown Jr got some minutes due to them being short handed and he came in and was active on the defensive end, coming up with two quick steals. The Lakers didn’t roll over though, once Wall went out the game, they made a push. They cut the one time 16 point deficit to seven with 20 seconds left, but Washington was able to end the quarter with a 10 point lead. The Lakers shot just 38% from the floor and turned it over six times. Beal also had nine points for Washington as they shot 55% from the floor.
Los Angeles made a few runs in the second quarter, mostly when they were able to get stops. They run so well, the ball flies up the court at times without it even touching the floor. Wall was on the floor to start the second, instantly providing some calm, the Lakers couldn’t contain him and that kept them from making up too much ground. The bright spot for LA was Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, he provided constant offense for them in a rough half. He scored 20 points, including going perfect from the field. Still, the Lakers inability to keep Wall out of the paint really crippled them. John was able to score at the rim, or in the midrange area and if not, he was finding different teammates that were making timely cuts. The biggest beneficiary of this was Sam Dekker. Wall capped the half with a long two, a step back over the long arms of Tyson Chandler to give Washington a 20 point lead at the half.
Down 20 to start the third period, the Lakers started the half with better ball pressure on the defensive end. Kyle Kuzma got going a bit, scoring 10 points on mostly layups in transition. Looking for answers on the defensive end, primarily to slow down John Wall. The Lakers went to a box-and-one and for a few possessions, it worked. Then Wall adjusted and the Wizards took off again, the teams mostly traded baskets and that didn’t help their comback bid in the least bit. LeBron James had a very slow first half with just nine points and most figured he would get going at some point. He scored just four points in playing all 12 minutes of the third quarter. Jeff Green had 10 points in the period and Washington led 99-76 heading into the fourth.
Lance Stephenson provided a much needed spark for the Lakers to start the fourth quarter, scoring seven points early on. Los Angeles even knocked down the deficit to 15 midway through the quarter, but Washington responded accordingly. Wall found Beal for a three at the top of the circle to push the lead back to 20. Brad scored 14 points in the first three quarters before exploding for 11 points on four of five shooting. He knocked down three of his four three point attempts during that span. With 2:26 left, Wall and Beal came out of the game to a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Wall. He was super aggressive and led his team to victory. The Lakers similar to the Celtics, couldn’t keep him out of the paint. Once he’s in the paint it’s either resulting in points or an open look for one of his teammates. John impacted both ends of the floor and kept the pressure on the Lakers, he said as much in the post game about staying aggressive for all four quarters versus picking his spots.
Dekker. He hasn’t been here for long, but he already has found a role. Sam is a fantastic cutter, he seldom sits still on the offensive end and he made a killing last night by cutting when John was driving. Time and time again he was rewarded with open layups or dunks. He’s been injured often in his young career, so there is still room for him to grow as a player.
Defense. The Wizards were finishing off defensive possessions with rebounds and that was the biggest difference. They were active with their hands on that side of the ball, garnering 13 steals and countless deflections. In terms of the boards, Washington won 51-43. Young Thomas Bryant pulled down 11 and from there it was by committee as seven players had at least four rebounds. Beal led the way with 12.