Davis Shoots

Lakers Survive in Overtime Against Wizards

A night after getting one of their best wins of the season in a thrilling comeback, the Lakers played through some fraught and tense moments but were able to avoid what would have been one of their more disappointing losses by taking down the Wizards 134-131 in overtime. The game moves the Lakers to five games over .500 on the season and allows them to keep pace in the west standings.

The Wizards came into this game losers of 12 consecutive games, but nearly played the part of spoiler in this one, with four players scoring 20 points or more, including 34 from Jordan Poole off the bench. Former Laker Kyle Kuzma had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while forward Deni Avdija played a strong and well-rounded game with 15 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists.

So, first and foremost, credit is due to the Wizards. They played mostly hard all night, racing the floor in transition and doing well to get into their offensive actions quickly and with good tempo to put stress on the Lakers defense and take advantage of what looked like a combination of physical fatigue a general engagement level that seemed to account for the recent struggles of their opponent.

Despite the Wizards ability to put up points offensively, however, their defense was unable to get the stops they needed to, which allowed the Lakers to get into a rhythm of their own on the other end of the floor. Chief among those Lakers was Anthony Davis, who led the way with a game-high 40 points on 14 of 22 shooting from the field and 12 of 13 from the foul line. Washington had no answers for Davis, who had his way attacking out of the post, from the mid-range, and when diving to the rim out of the pick-and-roll.

Washington would send doubles, but AD did well to pass out of those, tallying four assists and generally moving the ball well onto open teammates who, even if they didn't shoot, were able to create an advantage against a Wizards defense that did not prove capable of staying connected for more than an action or two.

On the other side of the ball, AD was again a force when protecting the paint and in cleaning the glass. Davis grabbed 15 rebounds (12 defensive), while blocking three shots and snaring one steal.

On one highlight reel play, AD tracked Cory Kispert attempting a reverse layup from one side of the rim to the other, deterring the shot on first side and then swatting it on the other, and then hustling to save the ball before it went out of bounds to ignite a Lakers fast break going in the other direction. It was just one of many plays AD made defensively to help make up for a Wizards offensive attack that did well to get past their first line of defense and threaten the rim.

Joining Davis with another great night was LeBron James, who scored 31 points on 12 of 24 shooting to go along with nine assists and four rebounds. Just as he did in closing out the Clippers the night before, James took the reins of the offense down the stretch to ensure his team got good looks as both teams traded punches in the middle of the ring looking to score the knockout blow.

On countless possessions in both the 4th quarter and overtime, it was LeBron who answered the bell with the play that was needed to either give the Lakers some needed cushion or to bring his team back after the Wizards looked like they were seizing control. In one of the most important sequences of the game and his team trailing by three, LeBron atoned for his own turnover with a fantastic chase-down block on Jordan Poole to keep it a one possession game and then a possession later hit a pull up three from the right wing to tie the game at 131 all.

Those plays proved to be the difference as Washington was never able to score the rest of the game, while the Lakers scraped together enough offense to pull things out.

Beyond LeBron and AD, D'Angelo Russell contributed 22 points, six rebounds, and five assists. Russell did not shoot the ball as well as he has lately (nine of 21 from the field), but he drilled four three-pointers and again did well to organize the team's offense on the ball and then find the creases as a cutter for easy shots when working off it.

Austin Reaves also had an efficient scoring night with 12 points on six of 11 shooting to go along with six rebounds and four assists. Reaves did not connect on either of his two shots from behind the arc, but he was excellent from two-point range, including hitting the game tying bucket on a euro-stepping, hanging jumper on the Lakers final offensive possession of regulation.

While this was not the prettiest win, it counts the same in the ledger and the Lakers will certainly take it. They now get a day off before playing the Nuggets on Saturday in Los Angeles.