The Lakers had strung together a two game win streak before meeting up with Boston on Wednesday in what had become a suddenly very highly anticipated matchup. That game did not live up to the hype however as Boston raced out to a 33-16 first quarter lead and never looked back as the Celitcs got the W 107-96.
The bright side is that the Lakers are improving. They’re 5-6 on this young season which is a solid feat for a team that was 30 games under .500 a year ago. LA could get back on track on Thursday night considering the fact that they’ve already toppled Washington once this season, a 102-99 OT win on Oct. 25th. Both Brandon Ingram and Larry Nance, Jr. had double-doubles in that matchup.
The Washington Wizards are 2nd in the Southeast standings, but have really struggled with just a 5-5 start to the season. They’ve been especially downtrodden lately, having dropped five of the last seven. The Wizards were thumped two nights ago by a two win Dallas Mavericks squad by the score of 99-113. Bradley Beal and John Wall both chipped in 23 points in that contest, but the Wizards gave up 31 to Harrison Barnes and 22 to Dennis Smith, Jr.
What’s odd about the Wizards’ struggles this season is the fact that they are 3rd in the NBA in scoring at 111.4 PPG. When you’re a .500 ball club but scoring at will that must mean you’re allowing points at a crazy rate which Washington is doing by ranking 24th in the NBA in points allowed per game. The Lakers are middle of the pack in both scoring as well as points allowed but will also have the disadvantage of playing their second game in as many nights.
Three keys to the game
Lakers Depth – Four Lakers starters played over 34 minutes last night against Boston and although they’re a young squad, with a short trip from Boston to Washington, it’s tough to do it twice in a row in the NBA. Larry Nance Jr., who had 18 points and ten rebounds in the first matchup is out until December with a hand injury so the bench has to pick up even more slack tonight.
Otto Porter Jr. – John Wall and Bradley Beal are going to get their points for the Wizards, but the team has struggled to find a third scoring option. A key on Thursday could be Otto Porter Jr. who needs to outshine his counterpart on the other end in the Lakers’ Brandon Ingram.
Washington’s Complacency – The Wizards are in the midst of a four game home stretch against Dallas, the Lakers, Atlanta, and Sacramento – teams with a combined 11-32 record so far this year. It would be easy to overlook each opponent in this home stand but Washington saw the dangers of that already in a 14-point loss to the Mavericks. Can they get up for this one?
Matchup to watch
John Wall vs Lonzo Ball – It’s a no-brainer to watch the Wall/Ball matchup tonight. You know a crafty veteran like Wall wants to school such a high profile rookie like the “Little Baller” any chance he can get. Wall only scored 18 on 7-22 shooting in the first matchup but did limit Ball to six points. Round two should be a big showing for Wall at home.
Los Angeles Lakers Projected Starting Lineup
Lonzo Ball PG | Kentavious Caldwell-Pope SG| Brandon Ingram SF| Kyle Kuzma PF| Brook Lopez C
Washington Wizards Projected Starting Lineup
John Wall PG | Bradley Beal SG| Otto Porter Jr SF| Markieff Morris PF| Marcin Gortat C
Jordan Clarkson had 18 points in 22 minutes against Boston on Wednesday and could be in line for some extended playing time after a two games in two nights situation for the Lakers. Clarkson has scored in double figures in seven straight games and could be a big sleeper pick for the night.
The betting line is Washington -10.5 which could seem like a lot of points considering the teams matched up well the first game. Sure the Lakers are in the always risky double header situation, but that can work towards the betting advantage in terms of the total.
The Lakers have allowed 100+ points to their opponents in the last four games while the Wizards have scored 100+ in five straight. With the tired legs of the Lakers, expect some easy buckets for Washington to send the total ‘over’ 220.5.
The Lakers have played in two back-to-back situations this season, losing by 15 to Utah the first time and beating Brooklyn 124-112 the most recent. It’s a tough situation but the Wizards have been playing some pretty bad basketball lately. It’s very well possible that the Lakers steal this one.
NBC-Washington, DTV 642 7:00 PM EST
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