Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images
Wizards take on Lakers Friday night
The Wizards (6-10) take on the league-leading Lakers (16-2) Friday night at 10:30 P.M. ET at STAPLES Center. Washington is looking to follow up one if its best offensive performances of the season in Wednesday’s win over the Suns, while the Lakers are riding a nine-game winning streak.
STAPLES Center | 10:30 P.M. ET | NBCSW & NBATV | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Isaiah Thomas, G – Bradley Beal, F – Troy Brown Jr., F – Rui Hachimura, C – Thomas Bryant
Lakers: G – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, G – Danny Green, F – LeBron James, F – Anthony Davis, C – JaVale McGee
Wizards: Ian Mahinmi (right Achilles strain – out), C.J. Miles (left wrist ligament injury – out), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out),
Lakers: Avery Bradley (right leg hairline fracture – out), DeMarcus Cousins (right knee rehabilitation – out), Anthony Davis (right shoulder soreness – probable)
High-scoring Wizards’ offense meets stingy Lakers defense
Through 16 games, the Wizards lead the NBA in points per game (119.4), assists per game (28.8) and field goal percentage (48.2) and rank second in offensive rating (113.5). After a brief two-game scoring slump against Sacramento and Denver, the Washington offense broke out against Phoenix, scoring 140 points on 57.3% from the field, 54.3% from 3-point range and 95% from the free throw line. Wednesday’s win against Phoenix was the Wizards’ fifth game this season shooting at least 50% from the field and registering 30-plus assists. In those games, Washington is 4-1 with its only loss coming in the 317-point shootout against the Houston Rockets. The Wizards’ offense will face one of its toughest challenges of the season Friday against Los Angeles. The Lakers rank eighth in the league with a 103.3 defensive rating and have held their opponent below 120 points in all but one game this season.
Bryant and Wagner take on their former team
In the last year, the Wizards’ have put an increased emphasis on bringing in young, unrealized talent from around the league and giving those players a chance to flourish with more playing time. The Wizards’ roster is one of the youngest in the league, and features youth acquired through the draft, trades and free agency. Two of the Washington’s most notable young transplants, big men Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner, came by way of the Lakers. Bryant was drafted by Los Angeles in 2017 and spent most of his rookie season in the G League, playing just 15 games with the Lakers. Bryant averaged 1.5 points in less than five minutes per game and was waived by the Lakers following his first season in the league, only to be claimed by the Wizards.
Wagner was drafted by the Lakers in the first round of the 2018 draft and played 43 games in the purple and gold in his rookie season. Wagner showed flashes of potential during his rookie season, but was never able to carve out much of a role in the team’s rotation. During the summer of 2019, Wagner, along with Isaac Bonga, was sent to Washington as part of three-team deal between the Lakers, Wizards and Pelicans than included All-Star Anthony Davis being sent to the Lakers.
Since joining the Wizards, both Bryant and Wagner have seen their production spike. Bryant has averaged 10-plus points per game in each of his two seasons with the team while Wagner has carved out a role as leading man of Washington’s dominant reserve unit. Bryant played twice against the Lakers last season, averaging 7.5 point and 8.5 rebounds per game. This will be Wagner’s first matchup against his former team.
LeBron on career-best assist pace
In his 17th season, LeBron James is leading the league with 11.0 assists per game, 1.5 more per game than any other player this season and nearly 2.0 more per game than he has averaged in any other season in his career. He has recorded 10-plus assists in nine of his last 10 games and has recorded two triple-doubles in that stretch. James orchestrates a Lakers offense that ranks sixth in the league in offensive rating and second, trailing only the Wizards, in field goal percentage. James also tops the league with a remarkable 49.4 assist percentage. James and Luka Doncic each have assist percentages over 49%, eight percentage points higher than the next closest player (Trae Young). James and Anthony Davis, who receives over 26% of James’s passes, make for one of the league’s most dynamic offensive tandems. James and Davis are the only pair of teammates to rank top 10 in total points scored this season.