The Los Angeles Lakers were up by as many as 17 points but lost it all in overtime. The Washington Wizards secured their fifth consecutive win by defeating the Lakers 127-124.
“I was just saying we got to just chip away guys … keep it at a respectable number at halftime and I thought we did,” said Washington head coach Scott Brooks. “We made some mistakes down the stretch, overhelped for some threes and fouled some drives, but we got to just play.”
Lakers forward LeBron James scored 31 points and forward Kyle Kuzma made 11 rebounds. Wizards guard Bradley Beal made 33 points and guard Russell Westbrook made 14 rebounds.
“We know how good we are when we put our minds to it, when we play a full, complete game, even without the guys we don’t have right now,” said Lakers guard Alex Caruso. “I don’t like losing, losing sucks, winning is fun, that’s why you play the game.”
The Lakers made stops against the Wizards, helping them find a five-point run early. Beal used his speed to score, but the reigning NBA champions protected the rim. Guard Talen Horton-Tucker and forward Montrezl Harrell gave the Lakers a 10-point lead.
Center Robin Lopez was a competitive force both on offense and defense, his effort gave the Wizards competitive energy. They fought to protect the paint, making fouls along the way. Their offensive effort soon caught up, as they executed well from the free throw line. But the Lakers did not lose control of the game and ended the half ahead 63-49.
Westbrook and Beal led the Wizard offense, center Robin Lopez made his return to the hardwood. The Wizards found a seven-point run midway through the third phase to bring them within eight points of the Lakers. Wizards players benefited from the Lakers fouls, bringing Washington within three points.
“When those two guys play like that, you’re looking at one of the best backcourts in the whole game, in all of basketball,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said about Beal and Westbrook. “It was extremely difficult.”
Although Harrell and Horton-Tucker had four fouls each, they stayed in the game throughout the fourth quarter.
Wizards forward Davis Bertans hit a three-pointer to bring Washington within one point of the Purple and Gold. With 6:46 left in regulation, forward Rui Hachimura makes a slam dunk to take the lead. The Lakers missed three-pointers and turned the ball over.
“They were just scoring the ball, we had mental lapses on defense,” Kuzma said. “We didn’t get into the paint.”
James drew contact on back-to-back scores sending him to the line and Kuzma hit a three pointer. However, the Lakers struggled to defend the speedy Beal and Westbrook. James scored a jumper to tie the game at 115 and the contest ultimately went into overtime.
Westbrook quickly created a 5-2 run, Beal added in buckets of his own to secure the victory.
“It’s a challenge for us, it’s a little adversary. The injuries and things that’s going on with our team,” James said. “We’re in a rough patch right now, but we’ll figure it out,”
The Lakers now travel to Utah to battle the Jazz on Wednesday, February 24 at 7pm.