Washington Wizards Three Takeaways: Lakers Can’t Complete Comeback, Wizards Win 16th Straight at Home

Washington Wizards have been piling up victories at home and secured another one against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night.

Half of the Los Angeles Lakers’ roster can’t even drink legally.

It’s been a while since the Lakers had a winning basketball season and it’s going to take some time for the team to complete their rebuild. But even though the Lakers find themselves at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, there are reasons to remain hopeful.

D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram, Larry Nance and Ivica Zubac have all shown flashes of their potential. The team has competed and aren’t an easy win by any means, but often struggle to close out games, as most young teams do.

On Thursday night, the Washington Wizards gained an early double-digit lead against the Lakers and seemed to be coasting to their 16th straight win inside the Verizon Center.

John Wall threw 360 degree passes, Bradley Beal finished reverse dunks and the Lakers turned the ball over enough times to derail any of their future momentum.

In the second half, though, the Lakers’ offense started to come together and the Wizards’ second unit blew the lead.

Behind Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams’ shooting, the Lakers got as close as three points before Wall sealed the deal in the fourth quarter.

Washington was able to pull away at the end, 116-108.

The bench is still unreliable

There’s been a lot of talk about the Washington Wizards’ bench finally “putting it together,” but that’s not the case.

Trey Burke and Kelly Oubre have been lights out from deep lately, and while both are capable of knocking down shots, their shooting wasn’t unsustainable.

Jason Smith has fallen back down to earth and the Wizards still lack a real creator.

When the starters checked out of the game, so did the Wizards’ offense.

Markieff Morris made just 3 of his 14 attempts, missing all 5 of his 3-point tries, so he wasn’t much of a help when his minutes were stunted.

Washington’s bench scored a combined 16 points. In terms of scoring, the Wizards’ bench is last in the NBA.

The occasional boost from Burke, Oubre or Smith is welcomed, but it’s far from the norm. The front office still needs to address the issue before the NBA trade deadline passes.

Wall has become a closer

John Wall finished the game with another double-double, scoring 33 points and dishing out 11 assists. Most importantly, he made shots when it mattered most – in the fourth quarter.

When the Wizards’ offense stagnated, Wall took it upon himself to get to the basket and score over the Lakers’ weak interior defense.

Then when the Lakers collapsed inside, he took Clarkson off the dribble and drilled shots from the elbow.

He led a 10-2 run with about 6 minutes remaining and made consecutive threes.

Wall also made two fadeaway shots from midrange to secure the win.

Washington has lacked a real closer for quite some time and some wondered if Wall would ever develop into that type of player.

This season, he’s been exactly what the Washington Wizards have been missing.

It was a road game at home

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the poor atmosphere inside the Verizon Center on Friday.

Washington’s attendance, at least from the looks of it, has increased since the team started winning. But the Lakers are probably the most popular franchise in basketball history and have the biggest backing, even when they’re bound for the NBA Lottery.

The Verizon Center was filled with purple and yellow jerseys. The Lakers fans almost sparked the comeback, it seemed. Washington’s players were being booed at the free throw line and the arena erupted whenever the Lakers made a key basket down the stretch.

It made for an interesting game, but it was a solid reminder that the Washington Wizards have a long way to go before completely capturing the attention of the nation’s capital.

With this win, the Wizards are just a game behind the Toronto Raptors for the third spot in the East. They’ll take on the New Orleans Pelicans at home on Saturday.

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