Alex Caruso layup vs Washington

Lakers at Wizards, Three Things to Know: April 28, 2021

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

The Lakers (36-25) face the Washington Wizards (27-34) in the final game of a 4-game trip on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sportsnet.

Below are three things to know about the matchup:

Since Anthony Davis returned, Dennis Schroder has ramped up his playmaking significantly, posting a streak of at least 10 assists and 16 points, and limited turnovers:

at DAL: 25 points, 13 assists, 4 turnovers
at DAL: 16 points, 10 assists, 2 turnovers
at ORL: 21 points, 10 assists, 2 turnovers

The 33 dimes to eight turnovers is impressive, as is the fact that his scoring hasn’t slowed as the assists have risen. After Monday’s win at Orlando, Schroder said he’s spoken to LeBron frequently about his play, and James has encouraged him to stay just as aggressive once he comes off the injury list, continuing to play his game. The Wizards will provide a good test for Schroder with their backcourt composed of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook.

Washington is playing their best basketball of the season, which was pretty obvious during their 8-game winning streak – just snapped by San Antonio on Monday in OT – that few would have predicted based on their 19-33 record prior to the first win. They’ve been led by their backcourt duo that seem to have found a rhythm together after a disjointed start to the season marred by NBA health and safety protocol absences that had their entire team shelved from Jan. 13 – 22, causing the postponement of six games.

Beal’s been an efficient scorer all season, but Westbrook’s picked up his shooting from a low point in February, when he shot 15.4 percent from three towards 19.1 points per game. He rebounded in March to average 25.2 points on 44.8 percent shooting, though the 3-point shooting has fallen off in April. He’s at 26.9 percent from the distance, and averaging 21.7 points. Of course, the assists and boards have been there consistently, as he’s now averaging 11.0 in both categories. One of LAL's best defensive options to help contain the duo, Alex Caruso, is questionable after leaving the ORL game with back spasms.

Washington is the NBA’s leader in pace this season, pushing the ball at every opportunity, with Westbrook and backup PG Ish Smith leading the charge. They also take a lot of shots early in the clock, and do less posting up than most teams. Scott Brooks’ squad average 104.5 possessions per game, well ahead of second place Golden State (102.9), let alone 19th ranked L.A. (98.86). Of course, pace isn’t necessarily a good thing, and it certainly isn’t correlated to winning or losing. In fact, the Lakers are better in transition than Washington despite playing “slower,” as they rank 11th in fastbreak points, compared to 26th for the Wiz.


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