LOS ANGELES —Following a discouraging shooting performance two days prior, the Los Angeles Lakers added another disastrous outing against the Washington Wizards falling 119-108.
Despite a lights out third quarter, the Lakers let a commanding double-digit lead slip away in the final period allowing the Wizards to get hot etching out a win to clinch a playoff birth. Here a few takeaways from Tuesday’s game:
Poor Finish Erases Hot Third Quarter
The Lakers have had their fair of struggles throughout the season with their performance in the third quarter that has often times played themselves out of games.
This wasn’t the case against Washington as Los Angeles put together an impressive third quarter posting 37 points on an eye-popping 93.9 percent shooting from the field. They hit 15 shots in a row to end the quarter that gave them a double-digit lead at 95-82 heading into the fourth quarter. The only miss from the field was Ivica Zubac‘s six-foot hook shot to begin the period.
Jordan Clarkson led the way offensively scoring 14 of 22 points for the game on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting including a pair of 3-pointers meanwhile he along with D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle combined for all eight of the team’s assists.
However, Los Angeles went in the complete opposite direction in the fourth quarter allowing Washington completely erase the double-digit in a 24-point swing in the visitor’s favor. It all began with a 9-0 run to begin the period that quickly pushed the momentum in the Wizard’s direction.
After tying the score at 101 with 5:56 remaining, Washington went on an 18-7 run to finish the game. This included an 11-2 burst in the final two minutes in the quarter.
In total, the Lakers were a shadow of their third quarter production shooting 23.8 percent while having just as many made field goals to turnovers (five). They were also outscored 20-to-8 in the paint and shut out in fast break points 8-to-0.
“We didn’t close it out on defense,” Randle said. “We were missing open looks. Guys got their looks. Sometimes they had a man on them, but for the most part, we were missing good looks.”
Wall Dominates Lakers Again
Throughout his NBA career, John Wall has seemingly had his way when facing the Lakers averaging 23.6 points and 12.6 assists in 10 career games, which are his highest totals against any team.
The All-Star point guard continued that trend on Tuesday night operating with much ease throughout the game surpassing those numbers finishing with a game-high 34 points and 14 assists. He racked up his 48th double-double on the season in the first half with 14 points and 10 assists. This included a few assists racked up in transition and a posterizing dunk over Randle.
Wall was a major factor in the second half, in particular, the final eight minutes of the fourth quarter scoring eight points that helped diminish entirely the Lakers’ 13-point lead heading into the period. He immediately made an impact upon checking back into the game scoring four quick points capped by a steal and dunk in transition to tie the game at 101 with left.
Wall iced the game with just over a minute left with a stepback jumper capping his strong performance.
“I think I’m having a great year scoring wise, but the way I’m playing, I think I’ve been playing this way the last couple of years,” Wall said. “It’s just you’re winning. You’re in the race for being one of the top three seeds, and it makes a big difference.”
For the most part, it has been a second year that has featured many ups and downs for the 2015 second overall pick.
Russell experienced one of his encouraging performances against the Wizards scoring a team-high 28 points with nine assists and six rebounds.
He was aggressively from the onset looking for his shot in the first half hitting at an efficient clip knocking down 8-of-13 attempts including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc for a team-high 20 points.
Russell added five assists in the second half, but he cooled down significantly shooting 2-of-8 from the field for eight points. He missed his first five attempts to start the fourth quarter, including a pair of wide-open 3-pointers that would have provided Lakers with much-needed separation from the Wizards. He finished 1-for-7 in the period with four of the team’s 13 points scored.
Despite an offensive dip in the final two quarters, head coach Luke Walton was impressed by his young guard’s overall performance.
“He was brilliant,” Walton said. “He was active on defense. He was trying to tag cutter and do all the things we ask. Offensively, he was getting what he wanted. He was making nice passes. He’s been really good and was really good again tonight.”
Although there have been several rough patches this season, Russell has seen improvement in his game that has led to more productive outings like Tuesday night. He will have an opportunity build off that in the final two weeks of games.
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