In the second of a four-game homestand, the Wizards locked in on both ends of the court to defeat the Lakers, 111-95. John Wall (23 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and three blocks), Bradley Beal (20 points, five rebounds, and five assists), and Otto Porter Jr. (20 points and 11 rebounds) combined for 65 points to lead the Wizards to the win. After giving up 34 points in the first quarter, the Wizards held the Lakers to 17-of-59 (28.8%) shooting from the field in the final three quarters. Washington scored 27 points off 19 Los Angeles turnovers and used an 11-0 run in the second quarter to take control of the game.
The two teams combined for 71 points in an extremely fast-paced first quarter, with both teams shooting 50.0% or better. Porter led the Wizards with 12 points, as Washington was making a point of getting him the ball. Beal added nine points of his own in the quarter and both players played all 12 minutes. The Lakers were scoring at will as well, but that would be the only offensive efficiency they’d have all night.
Porter ran with the second unit to begin the second quarter, and the Wizards took control of the game. Tim Frazier facilitated the offense with five points and four assists, while all five players locked in defensively. The Wizards used a big 11-0 run midway through the quarter and never led by less than nine the rest of the game. Washington led by as many as 16 in the second, shooting 60.0% to the Lakers’ 35.0%.
The defensive effort continued into the second half, with the Lakers only making 4-of-19 shots in the third quarter. In particular, the Wizards held the Lakers to 2-of-8 shooting at the rim and did not let the Lakers get any easy looks. Markieff Morris, who left in the first quarter but returned with a minor injury, made two key 3-pointers and scored eight points in the quarter. Wall would start to find a rhythm in the third period as the Wizards took full control of the game.
“His knee tightened up on him. I don't know if it was--it hasn't bothered him," head coach Scott Brooks said of Morris. "It just tightened up then he loosened it up and he was fine. Nothing going forward... He shot the ball well. He was patient offensively. He's still getting--he scored well but he's still getting some rhythm how we play. It's only his fourth or fifth game back now but it's good to see him making some shots. It's good to see him somewhat back to somewhat of his old self. It's only going to get better from here.”
The Wizards closed it out in the fourth quarter after Wall and Beal returned to the game. The Lakers shot poorly once again and only made 6-of-20 of their shots. It was an important win for the Wizards to get their defense back on track, and Washington was able to let the reserves finish the game in the last four minutes.
Wall, Beal, and Porter each took between 16 and 18 shots, giving the Wizards excellent shot distribution in the game. They combined for 65 points and competed on both ends of the court, but the way they were sharing the ball was very encouraging for three guys who are all averaging over 17 points per game this season. When those three guys score 20 or more points, the Wizards feel great about the way their offense is flowing.
Most importantly, the Wizards played stout defense after the first quarter. Defense was preached all during practice on Wednesday after a tough loss against the Mavericks on Tuesday night. Washington forced turnovers and took advantage of the Lakers’ miscues, while holding Los Angeles to a poor shooting night. When the Wizards hold opponents under 100 points, they’re a tough team to beat.
"It was just our effort," Beal explained postgame. "We had to get back to playing defense and we know that when we do that we're a great team. Like I always say, we always score over 100 points. It's never really our concern. It's just a matter of getting those stops and when we do so, we get our transition and we get our offense going and we're pretty much unstoppable I feel like. We got tired, we continue to preach about it, we need to do this, we need to do that. We finally put it into action. Now we got to be more consistent moving forward."
“They are a young team that has been playing pretty well," Wall added. "They get out and are one of the fastest paced teams in the league, but when you do a great job of challenging shots other than a couple of fouls we gave at the end, just challenging shots, making it tough and getting in the passing lanes, it excites our defense and ignites our offense because we get out in transition and can make layups and knock down threes.”
Next up, the Wizards host the hawks on Saturday at 7:00pm in the third of four games on this homestand.