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Wizards drop road trip opener to Lakers, 124-106
The Wizards got their last long road trip of the season started on Tuesday night in Los Angeles, but they couldn’t keep pace with the hot-shooting Lakers at Staples Center. Bradley Beal led the way with 32 points, but an efficient L.A. offense was too much to overcome as the Lakers cruised to a 124-106 victory on their home floor.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s 29 points paced Los Angeles, while LeBron James (23 points, 14 assists) and JaVale McGee (20 points, 15 rebounds) added double-doubles. All three helped the Lakers shoot nearly 54% from the field (33% from 3-point range) as they moved the ball well and assisted on 37 of their 48 makes. Los Angeles also took control of the glass on both ends of the floor, out-rebounding Washington 52-39.
Conversely, the Wizards shot just 43%, but the critical struggle came from beyond the arc. Outside of pair of Beal 3-pointers in the second half that momentarily staved off the Lakers, Washington shot just 18% from deep (6-for-32) Tuesday. Trevor Ariza (groin) returned to the starting lineup for the Wizards and hit an early 3-pointer, but left the game with the same injury after just under seven minutes and didn’t return. His return pushed Bobby Portis to the bench, where he scored 10 points and added seven assists.
After a cold start in the first half caused the Wizards to fall behind by 11 at the break, a red-hot start to the third for Los Angeles proved to be the turning point of the night. An 8-0 Laker run started the frame, and that became part of a longer 14-4 outburst that put Washington down by 19 points by the middle of the period. Beal’s aforementioned 3-pointers were part of the 17 points he tallied in the third to keep the Wizards afloat, but they couldn’t sustain a run to get any closer than down 11 before Los Angeles took a 14-point lead into the fourth.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, more aggressive than I was in the first half," said Beal. "I think, in the second quarter [Rajon] Rondo was denying me a lot and face-guarding me, so I was just like ‘I can’t accept that to happen. I have to do something about it.’ A lot of times, it was just me getting the ball at the rim and just bringing it down. I think it was easier for me to be able to go up against guys. Once I see a few go down, that was it from there. I just had to get us on a run.”
Jabari Parker scored nine of his 18 points in the final 12 minutes spearheaded Washington’s last effort to stage a comeback, but the Wizards couldn’t cut the deficit to any closer than eight points before the Lakers pulled away again.
The trip out West continues Wednesday in Phoenix, where Washington will take on the Suns at 10:00 P.M. ET.