While Kobe Bryant may have starred for the last time in front of the home fans this season, John Wall has shined when facing the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
Having regained his shooting touch, the Wizards guard will try to lead Washington to back-to-back wins on a four-game road swing Tuesday night against a Lakers team looking to avoid its longest skid in nearly 21 years.
After averaging 13.3 points and shooting 36.6 percent over his previous three games, Wall has gotten back on track with a combined 44 points on 18-of-33 shooting in the first two games of a trip that concludes Wednesday in Phoenix.
The All-Star starter scored six of his 19 points in overtime and had 16 assists Sunday, while Kris Humphries added a season-high 21 points and 14 rebounds to help the Wizards end a two-game slide with a 117-115 win at Denver.
"This is one of those ones that we’re happy to get," said Wall, who scored 25 at Portland a night earlier. "Especially on this road trip, we didn’t want to go down 0-2."
Washington (30-15) is 17-4 when Wall scores at least 18 points – a mark he’s surpassed in each of his three career road games against the Lakers. He’s averaged 24.7 points and 14.7 assists while shooting 50.0 percent from the field in those contests.
Now he’ll try to help the Wizards extend their longest winning streak in the all-time series to five and hand Pacific Division-worst Los Angeles (12-33) a ninth consecutive loss for the first time since a 10-game skid in April 1994.
The Lakers have given up 114.7 points per game in the past three meetings with Washington following their 111-95 loss in the nation’s capital Dec. 3. Los Angeles shot 38.8 percent in that contest and has struggled to score over a three-game stretch that began when Bryant injured his right shoulder last Wednesday in New Orleans.
Bryant was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff and is likely done for the season after it was announced Monday that he will have surgery. That doesn’t bode well for the Lakers, who have averaged 84.0 points on 39.7 percent shooting over those previous three games.
Nick Young had 21 points and hit 5 of 8 from 3-point range in last month’s meeting, but coach Bryon Scott said the former Washington guard ‘looked like he didn’t want to be here’ while going scoreless in Sunday’s 99-87 home loss to Houston.
The Wizards are 24-1 and 8-0 on the road when holding opponents below 100 points.
"The effort, that hasn’t been an issue," said Scott, whose club has averaged 18.4 turnovers in the past five games. "When we’re turning the ball over at that high of a rate, we’re not giving ourselves a chance."
Bradley Beal has totaled 45 points while making 7 of 10 from beyond the arc in his last two matchups with Los Angeles after scoring 27 in December. Marcin Gortat scored 21 to go with 11 boards in the first meeting, Wall contributed 17 points and 16 assists and Humphries pulled down a season-high 20 rebounds.
Even though they played without power forward Nene, the Wizards outrebounded the Lakers 53-43 and owned a 56-20 scoring advantage in the paint. They also outscored Denver 56-36 in the paint Sunday, and Los Angeles ranks near the bottom of the league with 45.0 paint points allowed per game.