FINAL: WIZARDS 127 | LAKERS 119
Behind a dominant fourth-quarter performance from Kristaps Porzingis, the Wizards topped the Lakers 127-119 on Saturday night at Capital One Arena. Porzingis finished the night with 27 points, 16 of which came in the final eight minutes of the game. He was one of five Washington players to score at least 16 points, including Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who recorded his second double-double of the season with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists.
Trailing by eight in the opening moments of the fourth quarter, the Wizards closed the game on a 34-18 run over the final 11 minutes. In that time, Porzingis shot 6-7 (.857) from the field, converting on mid-range jumpers, a pair of dunks, a 3-pointer and all three of his free throws.
“It just kind of happened naturally,” Porzingis said postgame. “We were getting a mismatch and I was trying to make a play out there. I got my shot over a couple times, over some smaller guys. My teammates kept trusting me and giving me the ball in those situations. I was just trying to make the right play out of that situation. That was it.”
Washington trailed by as many as 16 in the first half and have now come back to win three times this season when trailing by at least 15 points. With the win, the Wizards snap a six-game losing streak and have now won five-straight home games against the Lakers.
Washington was playing without Kyle Kuzma, who is averaging over 20 points per game in his last 21 games but sat out on Saturday night due to right knee tendinitis. In his place, Rui Hachimura made his first start of the season and finished with 10 points on 5-9 (556) shooting.
Russell Westbrook, playing in his first game in D.C. since he was traded to the Lakers last offseason, finished the night with 22 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Westbrook was recognized with a tribute video during a game break in the first quarter.
The Lakers jumped out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter before Washington stormed back in the second. Caldwell-Pope and Corey Kispert knocked down threes on consecutive possessions to cap a 9-0 Wizards run that cut the Washington deficit from 14 to five with just over five minutes left in the first half. LeBron James put an end to the momentum, converting on a driving layup that gave him his 21st point of the night and moved him past Karl Malone for second on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
“You’re never shocked,” Caldwell-Pope, a former team of James, said postgame. “Playing with him for (three) years, just seeing what he can do, how he does it – it never ceases to amaze me. He’s been striving for greatness ever since he stepped foot in the league. Just to be a part of some of that felt great…He’s a brother first and foremost, no matter what team I am on.”
Los Angeles maintained control throughout most of the second and third quarters, leading by as many as 15 points. James scored 27 of his game-high 38 points between quarter two and three, setting the tone for a Lakers offense that shot 25-49 (.510) in that time.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Wizards made their move, capped by an 8-0 run to take a 107-106 lead – their first of the game – when Ish Smith found Porzingis for an and-one alley-oop. Just a few possessions earlier, Smith used a behind-the-back pass in transition to set up a double-pump dunk from Daniel Gafford to keep the run going.
After Malik Monk answered a late three by Porzingis and cut the Wizards’ lead to 122-119, Deni Avdija nailed his third triple of the night to put Washington up six with 40 remaining, sealing the Wizards’ streak-snapping win.