The Los Angeles Lakers were home at Staples Center looking to sweep the season series against the Washington Wizards on Sunday night. The first meeting between these teams saw a classic performance from Kobe Bryant in the Lakers 108-104 win in Washington.
The Wizards are fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference and would be led as usual by their All-Star point guard John Wall and his backcourt mate Bradley Beal.
Rookie D’Angelo Russell would make the start for the Lakers despite what looked like a badly turned ankle on Friday night while Julius Randle would be looking for a great follow-up performance after his first career triple-double.
The Lakers got off to a quick start thanks to their shooting from deep as Kobe Bryant hit back-to-back three pointers and D’Angelo Russell followed with one of his own to put the Lakers up 9-2 early. Russell would add a floater and another three to put the Lakers up 12, but John Wall would go on a personal 10-0 run to quickly bring Washington within a basket. Wall continued to lead the charge for Washington, but a third three-pointer from Kobe kept the Lakers ahead. Marcelo Huertas checked in and followed a beautiful floater with a charge drawn on Wall. A pair of free throws from Lou Williams gave the Lakers a 27-24 lead after the first.
A dunk from Nance and three free throws from Lou gave the Lakers a little breathing room, but Ramon Sessions quickly led the Wizards back and the cut the Lakers lead to a point. Russell checked in and hit a jumper, but Wall returned and immediately made an impact, hitting a short jumper and assisting on two more baskets as Washington pulled ahead by four. Washington continued their run, stretching it to 16-2 in the quarter as they suddenly found themselves ahead by nine. A three-point play from Kobe finally ended the Wizards run, but the Lakers remained down by seven. Both teams traded baskets down the stretch and a last-second basket from Clarkson was waived off as the Lakers trailed 50-44 at halftime.
Otto Porter started off the third quarter red hot, scoring the first seven points for the Wizards. Buckets from Russell and Kobe only brought the Lakers to within 11 after three minutes. Washington pulled ahead by 15 midway through the third before a floater from Lou ended a Lakers drought. Russell tried to get things going with a three-point play but the Lakers struggled to make any kind of dent in the deficit. Poor shooting and turnovers continued to hurt the Lakers and they trailed 77-59 going into the fourth.
J.J. Hickson got the Wizards started, but Larry Nance Jr. quickly responded with a basket of his own. It did not get any better for the Lakers as Washington continued to push the lead out further. Fans chanted for Kobe to return to the game as the Lakers trailed by 23 early in the quarter. The Lakers would try to make a slight run as Huertas fed Tarik Black for a massive dunk and Clarkson for a lob to bring them within 16. Huertas would hit a three and then hit Nance for a huge dunk over Hickson as suddenly the Lakers trailed by only 13 with just under five minutes remaining. That was as close as the Lakers got, however, as the Wizards pulled away over the next couple of minutes. A couple of lae baskets from Russell and Randle made the score slightly more bearable, but the Lakers lost their third straight game, 101-88.