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Wizards looking to add to Lakers’ latest woes

Sportsnaut
Feb 27, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA;  Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) reacts after missing a basket in the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 27, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) reacts after missing a basket in the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Just when the Los Angeles Lakers start to think it will not get any worse, a new version of rock bottom shows up with no concrete evidence that the crash is complete.

The Lakers enter Friday’s home matchup against the Washington Wizards on the heels of a 139-130 overtime defeat Wednesday to the Houston Rockets, who have the worst record in the Western Conference.

With the game in the balance over the five-minute extra period, the Rockets peeled off 19 points and sent the Lakers to their sixth defeat in their last seven games. Going back to Feb. 8, the Lakers are 2-9.

It didn’t even matter for Los Angeles on Wednesday that LeBron James had a triple-double with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. It wasn’t enough to get one of Russell Westbrook’s best games in a Lakers uniform with 30 points on 11-of-21 shooting.

The Los Angeles defense was an issue yet again, with Rockets rookie Jalen Green going off for a career-best 32 points, 10 of which came in overtime. And while he might be a first-year player, Green had no hesitation admitting the plan on offense was to attack Lakers veteran Carmelo Anthony.

“Try to make sure everybody’s kind of trying to stay connected through all this stuff,” Westbrook said. “There’s a lot going on with us as a team, and it’s easy to spread out and not trust each other.”

Despite James’ productive numbers, he was just 3 of 12 from the field after the third quarter. His personal-best run of games with at least 25 points ended at 23 in a row.

“We just don’t have a lot of room for error,” James said. “When we make a mistake, or we break down defensively, or we don’t get a good look at the basket, teams are literally making us pay every time. We’re not getting away with things and it’s just that simple.”

In their first game at Los Angeles this week, the Wizards fell 115-109 to the Clippers on Wednesday. Kristaps Porzingis had a team-leading 19 points in his second game with the Wizards but missed a 10-footer with 17.7 seconds remaining that would have tied the contest.

The veteran big man has averaged 22.0 points in limited action with his new team after recovering from a bone bruise in his right knee.

In a bid to win consecutive games for the first time since a three-game winning streak Jan. 9-12, the Wizards led 109-104 with 2:37 to play but were outscored 11-0 down the stretch.

“I haven’t played with them, and they haven’t played with me, especially during these late game situations where the pressure is up,” Porzingis said. “I missed a pretty good look and had a couple turnovers. Just small accidents that we can clean up easily. But that will come with time and with minutes on the floor.”

Porzingis’ 26 minutes of court time were five more than in his team debut Sunday, a victory over the Indiana Pacers. In a balanced scoring attack Wednesday, a pair of former Lakers had solid contributions as Kyle Kuzma had 17 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 16.

–Field Level Media