Lakers, facing Wizards, hope to build on comeback win


Mired in a 12-game losing streak, the Washington Wizards at least will have the advantage of a day of rest when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday.

For the Lakers, it will be the second game in two nights following a furious fourth-quarter rally in a 116-112 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday.

In dire need of consistency, the Lakers are giving their latest lineup an extended look. Rui Hachimura received the start against the Clippers, just his 17th of the season but 10th consecutive.

Hachimura opened on the floor Tuesday with stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis, along with the backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves. The Lakers trailed by 21 points with 11:45 remaining before James scored 19 fourth-quarter points while making five 3-pointers in the final period. He finished the game with 34 points and eight assists.

“My teammates did a great job of trying to find me and I just tried to dictate the tempo,” James said. “It’s just a zone and you can’t really describe it. You wish you can stay in it forever, but obviously it checks out as the game ends. But during it, you don’t feel anything. It’s like a superpower.”

The Lakers could use a power boost for defense and rebounding. Cam Reddish could help, as he finally returned Wednesday and played nearly 20 minutes after missing the previous 14 games with an ankle injury.

With Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) and Christian Wood (knee) still out, Jaxon Hayes and Max Christie have been asked to pick up the rebounding effort off the bench.

“You gotta have a nose for (rebounding), make sure you put bodies on bodies. Everyone participates,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.

After they were outrebounded in seven consecutive games, the Lakers had a 39-36 edge on the Clippers as Davis had 12 to go along with 20 points.

The Wizards can only hope to narrow down their deficiencies after not winning since late January, when they took down the Detroit Pistons and San Antonio Spurs in succession. However, going back to Dec. 31, they are 3-24.

The Wizards replaced head coach Wes Unseld Jr. with interim head coach Bran Keefe last month, but they are just 2-13 since.

Washington guard Jordan Poole has come off the bench the past four games, a move that has produced largely positive results.

Poole has averaged 20.5 points in four games with the reserve unit after he averaged 9.3 points over his last six starts. He scored 12 points in the Wizards’ 123-112 home loss Tuesday against his former team, the Golden State Warriors, though he shot just 5-for-17 from the floor.

Kyle Kuzma had a team-leading 27 points and 12 rebounds against Golden State ahead of his own date against his former team on Thursday.

“We can’t put our finger on why we come out so lackadaisical,” Kuzma said about the Wizards’ second-half struggles, after they were outscored 38-17 in the third quarter by the Warriors.

“I don’t know what it is, but it (angers) me for sure. I think about it every night. We always have these struggles in games where it gets away from us. And that’s on all of us.”

–Field Level Media

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