The Los Angeles Lakers came out slow on the first night of their four-game road trip, falling behind by 22 points in Boston. Though they would battle back and have a chance to win, they ultimately came up short against the Celtics in a game in which Luke Walton believed his team’s defense was terrible.
The Lakers will have no time to dwell on it however, as they must turn right around and face a dangerous Washington Wizards team. Washington comes in having lost three of their last four games including an embarrassing home loss to the Dallas Mavericks in their most recent contest.
The Lakers came out victorious when these two teams met earlier this season, an exciting overtime thriller at Staples Center. Brandon Ingram led the Lakers that night and he has been the team’s most consistent scorer recently as well. They will need him to continue on that path if they want a win.
Of course there will be some differences in the frontcourt from the first match-up as Larry Nance Jr. (who had a double-double in the first meeting) is out while the Wizards have since welcomed back starting power forward Markieff Morris.
As usual the Wizards will always go as far as their backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal take them. Wall is the playmaker, averaging 10.8 assists per game, good for second in the NBA and his speed makes him impossible to stop in transition.
Beal meanwhile is turning into one of the most complete scoring guards in the league. He averages 25.4 points per game and can score from anywhere on the floor. He torched the Lakers with 28 points in the first match-up so Lonzo Ball and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will have to be focused on defense.
Keeping Wall out of transition will fall on Ball and KCP primarily as they are much easier to contain, particularly Wall, in the halfcourt. This Wizards backcourt is also very strong defensively which doesn’t bode well for the Lakers guards who have struggled offensively.
Ball continues to struggle shooting and remains under 30 percent for the season, an alarming number. Ball claims the issues are in his head, but he has to figure something out soon. KCP has been streaky as a shooter, but remains the team’s best perimeter defender and has come up with clutch plays all year.
The Lakers have a big advantage off the bench as Jordan Clarkson continues to provide a consistent offensive punch while Josh Hart is a tough defender. Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks get the backup minutes for the Wizards but as long as the Lakers guard the three-point line, those two aren’t much of a worry.
Brandon Ingram has been outstanding for the Lakers recently, averaging 18.7 points and 8.0 rebounds in the last three games while shooting 55.3 percent from the field. He is turning into the consistent offensive threat the Lakers need while also continually making an impact defensively with his length.
Ingram has a tough match-up with Otto Porter Jr., another tough defender who is second in the NBA averaging 2.1 steals per game. He is also a dangerous spot-up shooter, knocking down 52.4 percent from three-point range. Ingram will have to be on point on both ends of the floor.
Markieff Morris has struggled since returning from injury. The power forward is averaging just 6.7 points on under 30 percent from the field. Rookie Kyle Kuzma struggled in Boston, but could be in line for a bounce-back game as he has a speed and athleticism advantage over the physical Morris.
Brook Lopez has a long day in front of him as Marcin Gortat is Wall’s favorite pick-and-roll partner. Lopez must figure out a way to contain the big man rolling to the basket as that is the source of most of his buckets. More importantly, he must keep Gortat off the glass.
Julius Randle continues to be outstanding off the bench for the Lakers as he posted a double-double in Boston last night. He was critical to the Lakers’ first victory over Washington and will need to play strong again. Veterans Corey Brewer and Andrew Bogut will also get some minutes.
The Wizards only reliable bench player is Kelly Oubre Jr. who is a great athlete and solid shooter. He is one of the role players the Lakers have allowed to have career nights in the past and can ill-afford to on this night.
Three Keys To Lakers Victory
Defensive Rebounding: The Lakers have continually had great defensive possessions ruined by an inability to grab the rebound. Players like Gortat and Ian Mahinmi live to crash the offensive glass and the Lakers must make their job easier by not allowing this team multiple possessions.
Turnovers: Taking care of the ball has been an issue all year for the Lakers and allowing Washington to get into transition would be a major problem. The Wizards also do a good job of taking care of the ball so the if the Lakers can figure out a way to force them into some miscues it would be huge.
Shot Selection: The Lakers did a good job of battling back in Boston, but when it came down to it, they began forcing terrible shots instead of moving the ball. The Lakers can’t afford to go one-on-one and get away from the ball movement that allows their offense to be successful.
Los Angeles Lakers (5-6) Vs. Washington Wizards (5-5)
4:00 P.M. PST, November 9, 2017
Verizon Center, Washington D.C.
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Lonzo Ball
SG: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
SF: Brandon Ingram
PF: Kyle Kuzma
C: Brook Lopez
Key Reserves: Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, Corey Brewer, Josh Hart, Andrew Bogut
Projected Wizards Starting Lineup:
PG: John Wall
SG: Bradley Beal
SF: Otto Porter Jr.
PF: Markieff Morris
C: Marcin Gortat
Key Reserves: Kelly Oubre Jr., Jodie Meeks, Tim Frazier, Mike Scott, Jason Smith
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