By Dave Johnson
The Washington Wizards kept the fans in Los Angeles in their seats until the end and in the end they were stunned. The Wizards fought through an 18-point deficit to defeat the Lakers 103-100 and now go after a winning record on their four-game road trip tonight against the Golden State Warriors.
Coverage of the Wizards and Warriors begins at 10:15 on the Washington Wizards Radio Network:
Here is today’s
John Wall seized control of the game in the second half when he scored 18 of his team-high 24 points. He was in charge. Wall delivered a career-high 16 assists and only had one turnover. One of Wall’s favorite targets was Trevor Ariza, who came off the bench to score an incredible 25 points in 29 minutes including 7 of 12 beyond the arc.
When Ariza wasn’t silencing the crowd with his offense, he was busy on defense against Kobe Bryant. While Bryant led the Lakers with 21 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' victory triggered memories. Like their win over the Suns in Phoenix, it was their first win over the Lakers in Los Angeles since December of 2006. It was different then. On that road trip in 2006 Gilbert Arenas scored 60 points to beat the Lakers and then 54 points to beat the Suns.
This time in wins over the Suns and Lakers, the Wizards' success was based on defense. On Wednesday the Wizards won in Phoenix by holding the Suns to 79 points. To rally in Los Angeles the Wizards used a third quarter when they outscored the Lakers 31-17 to get back in the game.
"I told them, the last three or four minutes of that second quarter has to be how we play, and we have to start out by getting stops. I said, if we keep running our offense and getting the same shots, you guys are going to knock them down. You’re going to make shots; take the shots, and take them with confidence. That’s what they did, and I’m proud of those guys."
“It was a colossal win; it’s awesome, pure joy. We continue to have each other’s back, we can do anything. We were down in that first half, mainly because we were getting great looks, we just weren’t making shots and the resilience on defense was, immaculate. So getting stops and running out on the other end, you know, John [Wall] had a great game, Trevor [Ariza], 7 of 12 from the three-point line, all big shots, great shots and just continue to fight is the most important thing and we showed that tonight. Walking out here with a win is just the ultimate feeling.”
Golden State hasn’t played since Wednesday night when they lost to the Spurs in San Antonio 104-93. The Spurs victory came off of a strong second quarter in which they outscored the Warriors 38-25. The Spurs won despite a 24-point performance by Stephen Curry.
The Warriors have had mixed results of late going 6-6 in the month of March. They currently sit at the 6
th spot in the West, just 2.5 games ahead of the 8
th place Lakers.
Golden State has struggled as a team the last couple months after starting the season with a 30-17 record. Since then they have gone 9-14, attributed largely to a six-game losing streak back in February.
Stephen Curry is having a breakout season averaging 22.2 PPG. Curry scored 54 points in Madison Square Garden back on February 27.
Although Andrew Bogut isn’t playing at full strength, he has been a rebounding force of late, averaging 10.7 RPG in his last three games.
The Warriors last year were ranked 28
th in rebounding and have moved their way up to third this season. The Warriors are 31-10 when out-rebounding opponents.
Golden State’s opponents this season are shooting 43.8 percent from the field and 34.1 percent behind the arc, ranking them at 5
th in the league in defensive field-goal percentage.
The Warriors give up a lot of three-point attempts as opponents are averaging 23.4 attempts a game. This Golden State squad is the team that allowed the Houston Rockets to tie an NBA record by making 23 threes.
The Warriors' only other matchup with the Wizards this season was back on December 8, when they defeated Washington 101-97 at the Verizon Center. David Lee led the Warriors with 24 points and 17 rebounds, followed by Klay Thompson with 23 points, and Stephen Curry with 22.