Lakers vs. Wizards takeaways: Horrendous defense spoils LeBron James’ historic night

Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis dunks on Lakers star LeBron James.
Washington Wizards center Kristaps Porzingis dunks on Lakers star LeBron James during the Lakers’ 127-119 loss Saturday night.
(Luis M. Alvarez / Associated Press)

The Lakers showed no resistance on defense, allowing the struggling Washington Wizards to have their way and Kristaps Porzingis to dominate the fourth quarter.

The Lakers have been a horrendous defensive team all season, and on a night when LeBron James made history by scoring 38 points to become the NBA’s second-leading scorer with a total of 36,947 points over a 19-year career, surpassing Karl Malone (36,928), the Lakers couldn’t fully celebrate the accomplishment because their defense let them down again.

LeBron James passed Karl Malone and moved into second place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, but the Lakers fell 127-119 to the Wizards in Washington.

“You got to have a lockdown defense in the fourth and we didn’t have that tonight,” coach Frank Vogel said. “The final three quarters, we didn’t defend well enough.”


The Lakers began to slide on defense in the second quarter and kept going downhill during their 127-119 defeat to the Wizards.

They allowed 32 points to the Wizards in the second, 35 in the third and 34 in the fourth.

The Lakers’ porous defense allowed the Wizards to make 56.5% of their shots in the third and 63.2% in the fourth. For the game, the Wizards shot 51.8% from the field.

Then there was Porzingis.

He used his 7-foot-3 frame to take over the game in the fourth, scoring 16 of his 27 points. He was six for seven in the quarter, a force the Lakers couldn’t stop.

“Kristaps got it going, was taking advantage of what we was doing,” Carmelo Anthony said.

As a result of a Lakers defense that entered the game ranked 26th in points allowed (113.8), they have just a half-game lead over the New Orleans Pelicans for the ninth seed in the Western Conference.

Westbrook has another good game

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook yells during a game against the Timberwolves.
Lakers guard Russell Westbrook scored 22 points against the Wizards on Saturday.
(Andy Clayton-King / Associated Press)

Russell Westbrook leaped and grabbed an offensive rebound over Porzingis, his eighth rebound of the game, and threw a no-look pass to a cutting Stanley Johnson, who was fouled by Porzingis on a layup attempt.

Westbrook smiled, a look of joy on his face for the way he and the way the Lakers were playing in building a 14-point lead in the third quarter.

Westbrook followed up his strong outing in Toronto on Friday night with 22 points on 10-for-15 shooting, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

“I just try to play and see what‘s the best way to be able to fit with our group each night,” said Westbrook, who also had five turnovers. “It can be a combination of different things I am able to do on the floor, so I try to do that when I can.”