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Stage is set for Wizards and Lakers
The trip continues tonight in L.A. as the Wizards bring their 3-0 record to take on the young Lakers.
Staples Center | 10:30 p.m. | NBCSW/ESPN | 1500 AM
Wizards (3-0): G - Wall, G - Beal, F - Porter Jr., F - Oubre Jr., C - Gortat
Lakers (1-2): G - Ball, G - Caldwell-Pope, F - Ingram, F - Nance Jr., C - Lopez
Wizards: Markieff Morris (Sports Hernia - Out), Sheldon Mac (Achilles - Out), Jason Smith (Shoulder - Questionable)
Wizards Bring Unblemished Record to L.A.
After two straight home wins, the Wizards opened their road slate with a win in Denver on Monday night, improving their record to 3-0, the fourth time in history they have opened a season with three straight wins. They are the only unbeaten team left in the Eastern Conference and will look to open a season 4-0 for the first time since the 1978-79 season.
The Wizards have won five straight games over the Lakers in L.A., their longest winning streak in L.A. in team history.
Jason Smith (shoulder), who has missed the last two games after leaving the opener in the second quarter, will be questionable for tonight's game. If he can't go, expect Kelly Oubre Jr. to remain in the starting lineup.
Point Guard Showdown
Every night John Wall steps on the floor he's must-see TV, but with the added hype leading into tonight's nationally televised game, we could be in for quite a show from the Wall Star. Wall has the capability to score 30+ points and dominate a game, but he can also take control of a game with his passing, as we've seen in the past with some of his 15+ assist games. He's played well at Staples Center over his career, and last year went for 34p-14a in a win over the Lakers, but this time around he'll get his first matchup against LA's first round lottery pick, Lonzo Ball.
There's plenty of noise around Ball, but for all the chatter and social media buzz, he's a very talented rookie who's capable of a triple-double whenever he's on the court. Through his first three games, he hasn't shot the ball particularly well (35%), though he did score 29p (4/9 3p) in the team's lone win over the Suns. In his last game, he didn't shoot well, but still had 13 assists and eight boards, so he doesn't need to score to stay involved.
This matchup will be scrutinized in every way tonight, but at the very least it should result in some exciting basketball.
This is a different looking Lakers team than what the Wizards saw last year, but still one filled with youth. Their starting backcourt now consists of Ball (19) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (24), who the team added via free-agency this summer. KCP will give the Lakers strong perimeter defense and he can shoot from the outside, so he'll be a focal point tonight. After a two-game suspension to begin the season, he had 20p in his Lakers' debut on Sunday.
In the front court, they've been staring Brandon Ingram (20) and Larry Nance Jr. (24), along with center Brook Lopez, who at 29 must feel like an old man in the Lakers' locker room. The team has high hopes for Ingram in his sophomore season, who like Ball was a second overall pick. He's a long and athletic wing who can present matchup problems with his versatility.
In Sunday's game, three of their top four scorers came off the bench, as Jordan Clarkson (25), Julius Randle (22), and rookie Kyle Kuzma (22) all finished in double figures. Kuzma was a late first round pick this past year, but already looks like one of the Lakers' top offensive weapons, and is averaging over 14 points per game through his first three games.
The Wizards will next head to Oakland to take on the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Friday.