Short-handed Lakers host red-hot Wizards

NBA Basketball

Amid their worst stretch of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers will search for a rebound effort at home Monday against the Washington Wizards.

The Lakers have dropped three of their last four games, including two consecutive for just the second time this season. The most recent defeat for Los Angeles came Saturday in an NBA Finals rematch with the Miami Heat.

The Lakers were without Anthony Davis for the third consecutive game and fourth time in the past six contests because of an Achilles injury. Also out was Dennis Schroder, reportedly because of COVID-19 contact tracing, as the Heat finished off a 96-94 victory.

Kyle Kuzma stepped up in an effort to fill Davis’ void, leading the Lakers with 23 points on a season-high 21 shot attempts. He made eight of those shots, including 4 of 11 from 3-point range.

LeBron James had 19 points with nine rebounds and nine assists, and struggled from the field by hitting 7 of 21 shots overall and 1 of 8 from 3-point range. James was 2-for-9 from the field in the second half and 1-for-6 in the fourth quarter, including missing all four of his attempts from 3-point range in the final period.

The Lakers still had a chance to win the game late when James stole an Andre Iguodala pass with 8.4 seconds remaining, but Alex Caruso missed a long jumper from the wing with 1.4 seconds on the clock.

“Everybody is just picking up in (Davis’) absence and obviously it hasn’t been (with) wins in the last two games, but we’re going to keep on working on our habits,” James said. “We’re going to continue to be great for one another.”

Where a matchup against the Wizards used to mean a bit of a respite from the NBA grind, Washington has been bucking that trend of late. The Wizards enter on a four-game winning streak, their longest since winning five consecutive from Jan. 27-Feb. 10, 2018.

The Wizards enter off an impressive 118-111 victory at Portland on Saturday to open a four-game West Coast trip. That effort came after home victories over the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets in succession.

Bradley Beal, who was just named an NBA All-Star after getting snubbed last year, had 37 points against the Trail Blazers on 16-of-27 shooting, winning the battle against Portland’s Damian Lillard, who had 35 points.

Russell Westbrook delivered a triple double for Washington with 27 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in the victory.

“We haven’t done this in three years,” Beal said of the win streak on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast. “We’re just constantly building on our wins and we’re just staying positive. We’re just uplifting each other and we’re doing it on the defensive end.”

The Wizards entered play Saturday giving up an NBA-worst 119.5 points per game, but held the Celtics to 91 to start the win streak before holding the Trail Blazers under that number as well and ending Portland’s six-game winning streak.

Mostly, though, the Wizards are an offensive-minded squad led by Beal’s NBA-best 32.8 per game. Westbrook is scoring 18.9 points per game with 9.4 rebounds and 9.5 assists. Washington’s 114.0 points per game was 11th heading into play Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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