Here's your recap roundup for the Wizards' 103-100 road win against the Lakers. As always, check out our StoryStream for more coverage, as well as postgame interviews with Randy Wittman, John Wall, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster, courtesy of Monumental Network.
The Washington Wizards and Los Angeles Lakers were moving in different directions, which made Friday's 103-100 Wizards win all the more unexpected. But with John Wall running the point with command, and Trevor Ariza back at home and shooting like never before from beyond the three-point line, the undermanned Wizards managed their most impressive road win of the season.
"Awesome. Pure joy. A colossal win," forward Martell Webster said. "This is probably the best. They brought everybody back and respect to them, because they respected us. And that's why Kobe and Pau came back. They're making a push, so whenever we can upset somebody making a push, it makes it that much more sweet. We don't have a chance to get into the playoffs but we have a chance to upset some people."
Wall had 24 points and a career-high 16 assists in Los Angeles, and Trevor Ariza came off the bench to score a game-high 25 points and make a career-high seven three-pointers.
In the pivotal third quarter when the Wizards outscored the Lakers 31-17, they didn't commit any turnovers. The defense forced the Lakers to commit seven giveaways.
Coach Randy Wittman emphasized the need for his team to play with that type of discipline on the road to be successful. It hasn't been easy as their 7-26 record indicates.
"We just knew what our team was," said Wall, who only had one turnover for the entire game despite playing 44 minutes. "We're one of the top defensive teams and when we play defense and play the right way, we have a chance. We just have a lot of heart and character."
Wall turned it on in the second half, scoring 18 of his 24 points and dishing out 11 of his 16 assists after halftime. Trevor Ariza knocked down a career-high seven three-pointers and finished with a team-high 25 points in the win. Nene finished with 15, Martell Webster added 13, and Kevin Seraphin put in 12 off the bench.
The Wizards have now won five of six games and two straight on the road.
When Ariza wasn't silencing the crowd with his offense, he was busy on defense against Kobe Bryant. While Bryant led the Lakers with21 points, he had to work for his shots and finished 5 of 18 shooting from the field. Dwight Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, but of note did not attempt a shot in the fourth quarter.
The Wizards played without starting center Emeka Okafor again because of flu-like symptoms and guards Bradley Beal (ankle) and A.J. Price (groin), but they were able to erase an 18-point deficit to upset the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Friday. It was their fifth win in six games and first victory in Los Angeles since 2006.
What a game.
The Washington Wizards have had their share of great wins this season, with victories coming against the Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder and Los Angeles Clippers. But tonight was probably their best win. With just 6 road victories coming into L.A, Washington was destined to lose. Not to mention, Emeka Okafor and Bradley Beal were both out tonight. The Lakers were clearly more talented than Washington, but consistently failed to live up to expectations. With John Wall and Trevor Ariza leading the way, the Wizards would eventually chip away an 18 point lead en route to their best victory of the season.
I haven't been more proud of a Wizards performance since the heralded Gilbert Arenas era. I sit here typing away, just beaming from ear to ear. Everything about tonight's performance screams of a personality, a swagger, and an identity that this squad has not shown since the mid-2000's. And as always is the case when we succeed, everything started with John Wall. Wall showed tonight that he absolutely can be a max player (I apologize for throwing that in. But in this day and age, what else comes up when mentioning #2?). No, there hasn't been consistency from him since he came into the league, but these are the games that make you wonder that if his heart, mind, and body are all in tune, what are the possibilities? Wall set a career high with 16 assists, came through with 22 points and made the right play over and over again in the 2nd half. We all know he's been one of the premiere players over the last couple weeks and if he has any intention of making this a regularity; he'll earn every dollar of the contract he'll sign this summer. Trevor Ariza was absolutely phenomenal as well, scorching his former team to the tune of 7 3-pointers (career high himself) and 25 points. And even Kevin Seraphin got into the fun, helping the brigade in containing Dwight Howard after he posted a big first half. Overall, Washington's reversal of the momentum got the Lakers out of rhythm, helped close the gap, and ultimately put them over the top.
On the subject of awful defense, no player on the Wizards took greater advantage of it than former Laker Trevor Ariza. His seven three-point field goals made were a new career high as he scored 25 points. One career night deserves another, and John Wall had a career high 16 assists as he picked apart the Lakers defense like a turkey on Thanksgiving. When he wasn't busy having a career passing night, he was keeping the Lakers on their heels as he sped up the court like a missile guided to the rim and also scored 24 points.
Ariza led all scorers with 25 off the bench in his homecoming. The Westchester grad and former Bruin buried some big shots. However it was John Wall that did the most damage killing Steve Nash all night with 24 points and 16 assists. Wall put a nasty hesitation move on Nash that made the Canadian fall like Charles Barkley ice skating.
Ariza scored 19 of his game-high 25 points after halftime, setting a new career high by hitting seven 3-pointers as he was able to help Washington come all the way back from an early 18-point deficit to briefly take a two-point lead in the fourth.
While the Wizards came into the game with a 24-43 record, they were actually 19-15 this season with their best player, John Wall, in the lineup, so the fact that they gave L.A. a challenge shouldn't have been a surprise.
"This is a good team that just for whatever reason can't collectively mentally get stimulated to [play hard] every time," D'Antoni said after the Lakers wasted an 18-point first-half lead. "I told them today, we put our hands in [the huddle], and you guys have probably seen it, we say, 'Championship,' and go out [on the floor]. That's laughable. Championship? You got to be kidding me. Nobody understands the importance of every possession offensively and defensively. Every time they got to come out with some kind of determination to be a good basketball team, and [until] then, we're just, we're fooling ourselves. Right now, that's what we're doing. We're just making a 'sham-mockery' out of it."
D'Antoni had other things to say after the Lakers' record fell to 36-34.
"What happened was we didn't play hard enough," he said. "We think we can just figure stuff out and just point. Trevor Ariza's got 12 attempts at threes and he's wide open. That's inexcusable. It's just a matter of lapses or gambling or 'I'm not going to play hard tonight because we'll just outscore them.'
"I can't explain it, but every time we get up 16, it's like, 'Well, we're really good and we don't have to play hard.' And we start messing with the game and start messing with not moving the ball. You start messing with, 'I'm just going to go one-on-one every time,' you start messing with the basketball gods and they get you. The ball will roll around and go in for them and it'll roll around and go out for us because we're messing with the game.
"If we don't change that, well, obviously we won't make the playoffs, but even if we do, then we'll get blown out in the playoffs."
The Lakers blew an 18-point lead against the Wizards, who were 6-26 on the road coming in and missing starting center Emeka Okafor (flu). But Wizards speedy point guard John Wall gave a preview of what could await the Lakers in a possible first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, San Antonio's Tony Parker or Denver's Ty Lawson by rushing the ball into a backpedaling Lakers defense and establishing which team had the truer aggression.
Wall had 24 points and 16 assists, and his efforts held up with Bryant missing would-be tying shots from the open elbow with 5.9 seconds left and from a difficult 3-point circumstance at the buzzer. After a two-game layoff to heal a sprained left ankle, Bryant looked fatigued - and surely not from defensive diligence - but kept firing away late in the game.
The starting lineup of Bryant, Howard, Gasol, World Peace and Steve Nash fell to 0-6 this season. After struggling with injuries, the Lakers are fielding a near-healthy roster with 12 games to play as they fight to hang on to the eighth and final playoff spot.
''I can't explain it, but every time we get up 16, it's like, 'Well, we're really good and we don't have to play hard' and we start messing with the game,'' Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''When you start messing with not moving the ball, messing with 'I'm just going to go one-on-one every time,' and you start messing with the basketball gods, they will get you. If we don't change that we obviously won't make the playoffs.''