Wizards close scrimmage schedule Monday afternoon vs. Lakers
On Monday afternoon, the Wizards will take on the Lakers in each teams’ third-and-final exhibition game from Orlando with tip set for 3:00 P.M. The Wizards are coming off a 105-100 loss to the Clippers while the Lakers, after a win over the Magic, look to close out the scrimmage period with two straight wins.
Troy Brown Jr., who missed Saturday’s scrimmage against the Clippers with a sprained right thumb, is back in the starting lineup this afternoon against the Lakers.
VISA Athletic Center | 3:00 P.M. | NBCSW & NBATV | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Shabazz Napier, G – Troy Brown Jr., F – Isaac Bonga, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Thomas Bryant
Lakers: G – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G – Danny Green, F – JR Smith, F – Jared Dudley, C – JaVale McGee
Continuing to bring the defensive effort
After a regular season headlined by high-scoring affairs and struggles on the defensive end, the shorthanded Wizards, perhaps by necessity, have brought a new level of intensity on the defensive end over their first two exhibition games. After a solid performance Wednesday against a notably massive Nuggets lineup, the Wizards were tenacious against the Clippers. Los Angeles shot well in the first quarter, but combined for just 41 points in the second and third. Washington dominated the boards as well, outrebounding L.A., 63-47. On an individual level, Isaac Bonga and Rui Hachimura were outstanding, Both spent time on Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, who scored just six points on 3-16 (.187) shooting.
“He impacts the game because of his enthusiasm, effort and spirit,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said of Bonga after the game. “Everybody wants to play with him because he plays so hard and he plays to make the right plays.”
Bringing that level of defensive tenacity will be paramount for the Wizards as they enter the seeding games. Down their top two scorers, the offense won’t be able to reach the heights it did during the regular season. But if Washington can use its versatility on the wing and frontcourt depth to bother opponents, they’ll put themselves in a much better position to make a run at the eight seed.
Bonga, Wagner take on former team
Two of Washington’s most prominently featured young pieces will take on their former team on Monday. Bonga, mentioned above, and Moe Wagner, were traded to Washington last summer as part of the deal that landed Los Angeles Anthony Davis. In Washington, Bonga and Wagner have seen more minutes and more prominent roles than they may have on a Lakers team on a differently developmental timeline than the Wizards. Bonga and Wagner, each in the second season in the league, played just one game against Los Angeles this season, combining for 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Wizards’ second matchup with the Lakers was not played as it was scheduled to take place after the season’s suspension in early March.
Lakers’ stars, key reserves out
Like all teams participating in the NBA restart, a carefully orchestrated ramp-up process is being prioritized over the final score of the three exhibition games. Above all, teams need to get into the seeding games fully healthy and ready to compete for playoff spots and a championship. Much like the Wizards favoring their younger bench players late in Saturday’s scrimmage against the Clippers, the Lakers have been conservative with their minutes, specifically those of stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Both played just 15 minutes in their first exhibition game against Dallas. Saturday against Orlando, James saw more action, playing 25 minutes, while Davis played just 10, but had his night cut short when he was poked in the eye in the first quarter and did not return. Against the Wizards, James and Davis will sit out, as will reserves Dwight Howard and Kyle Kuzma.