Wizards extend win streak to five in a wild overtime win over Lakers
Washington continued their trip out west on Monday with the challenge of taking on the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. However, this wasn’t the same Lakers team they were playing as last year due to Anthony Davis Achilles injury. Washington took full advantage of the situation prevailing in come from behind win in overtime, and their fifth straight victory.
“It feels damn great” Beal described being on a five-game winning streak, “we still haven’t done a damn thing” Beal however added. This is just the attitude Washington needs to continue their hot play. Washington is still 11-17 and need to continue to keep winning to gain ground in the Eastern Conference.
For the Wizards, they started off the game how they have many times this season: Extremely slow. The Wizards struggled shooting from the field early as the Lakers jumped out to a small lead. It wasn’t until the Lakers’ sixth man Montrezl Harrell checked into the game where the Lakers started to move out in front. Harrell, who was the 2020 Sixth Man of the year award winner, showed Washington just why he won that award last year. Harrell came out as a force early and was playing fearlessly. Harrell was taking it right to the rack on Robin Lopez for scores and also scoring off tough offensive rebounding. The Wizards were going to need to stop Harrell at some point if they wanted to comeback in this game.
During the second quarter, Washington was being killed by three point shooting from Los Angeles. The Lakers made nine of 16 three pointers just in the first half alone. Washington only had two threes at this point which was making LA’s lead grow rapidly. Washington also was killing themselves offensively with turnovers. Eight Washington turnovers turned into 17 Laker points in the first half. Against a team like LeBron James and the Lakers, you must take every scoring opportunity you can get. The Wizards finished the half trailing by 14.
“We had to adjust defensively” Brooks told reporters, “We had to close off the perimeter and make them take the ball inside.” The Wizards were able to get the adjustments they needed playing a terrific third quarter. Washington closed the quarter on a 29-7 run to put themselves only trailing by six going into the fourth.
Beal and Westbrook both were leading Washington at this point, but Washington’s bench was also giving the Wizards terrific minutes. Players such as Garisson Matthews, Raul Neto, and Robin Lopez were all giving the Wizards sparks on the defensive end of the floor. Neto and Matthews in the second half generated multiple steals on James which turned into quick Washington points. Lopez overall was having a phenomenal game rebounding the ball and even creating little post shots for scores. Lopez finished with 13 points on 5/8 shooting.
Davis Bertans who had his career night last week, greatly struggled through the first three quarters of the game. Bertans was getting open looks from three but just not knocking them down. It wasn’t until early in the fourth when he came alive. Bertans hit his first three to make it a one-point game. Wizards rookie Deni Avdija also came alive late in the game knocking down his first couple three point shots. Avdija had been struggling as of recent from three but found his stroke late tonight.
The game was tied with 6 minutes to play until a fast break where Neto found a cutting Rui Hachimura for an emphatic one handed slam plus the foul. This put the Wizards up three and in a position to close out. The Wizards even went up 102-94 after Bertans knocked down another clutch three point shot. That red-hot Laker shooting was no where to be seen in the second half as Los Angeles finished 15 of 44 from deep after starting 9 of 15. Washington took advantage of the cold shooting by LA and slowly had climbed all the way back for a lead.
The Lakers quickly came back as James began to take the game into his own hands. James hit two and ones on two straight possessions to cut the Wizards lead to now only one. Washington answered right back with a huge three from Hachimura to extend the lead back to four. However, The Lakers came right back hitting two three pointers in a row to once again tie the game 1 minute to go. With 52 seconds left in regulation, Avdija once again knocked down a clutch shot from the corner to put the Wizards ahead by 3.
With 15 seconds to go it was up to Westbrook to knock down two free throws to put the game into a three point situation. However, Westbrook made only one, and James did what he does best at the end of games. James hit a tough runner through contact to tie the game with 9 seconds to go. Thankfully for Washington, they caught a break when James missed the potential game winning free-throw. Beal missed at the buzzer and the game was sent to overtime.
In overtime, Westbrook was coming up huge for Washington driving forcefully to the bucket and getting quick scores. Westbrook finished with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and 9 assists. Beal, after not scoring a field goal in the fourth quarter, was coming alive here in overtime. Beal hit two shots in a row with one of them being a ridiculous reverse layup to give Washington a four point edge. The Lakers hit a three making it a one point game with 15 to go. Washington on the inbound now was looking for Beal to get the ball. However, the Lakers made a horrific mistake by not fouling in time and allowing Westbrook to run freely to the basket for a layup plus the foul. This gave the Wizards a 3 point lead with 9 seconds left. The Lakers ran the floor and missed two threes at the buzzer, giving the Wizards their now fifth win in a row.
What a win it was for Washington who was playing their best basketball all season. Beal told reporters after the game “We’ve still got bad habits we need to break, but we don’t discount what we did.” Beal finished the night with 33 points doing what leading NBA scorer players do: Score the basketball. Westbrook and Beal for the second game in a row came up huge for Washington in the final minutes. The Wizards can’t forget about their bench play which brought them back into the game by picking up the teams defense.
The Wizards are now one of the hottest teams in the league currently. Washington must continue this pace to push back into playoff contention in the East. Washington won’t have to move an inch for their next contest against the other Los Angeles team in the Clippers. The game is Wednesday at once again 10:00 PM. It’s going to take another gritty team performance for Washington as they look to push this winning streak to six games.