The Los Angeles Lakers hosted the Washington Wizards on Sunday night looking to end their road trip with a win, which was no easy task.
The reason for that is the Lakers were without Anthony Davis due to a foot injury while Patrick Beverley, Juan Toscano-Anderson and Wenyen Gabriel also sat out. Meanwhile, the Wizards welcomed Bradley Beal back to the lineup after a six-game absence due to a hamstring issue.
Despite that, the Lakers were still able to hang on for a 119-117 victory to improve to 13-16.
The Lakers got off to a quick start with Austin Reaves playing a big role in that. He got the start in place of Beverley and hit two early 3-pointers to give L.A. a 14-12 lead. Kyle Kuzma got it going early in his return to Crypto.com Arena with five straight points for Washington going into the first timeout.
LeBron James stretched the Lakers’ lead to six with a midrange bucket, although the Wizards then responded with a 9-0 run to take their first lead.
Max Christie was one of the first subs off the bench for the Lakers and got to work with five quick points with L.A. eventually leading 30-29 at the end of one quarter.
The Lakers went on a nice run early in the second, getting out in transition and throwing alley-oops to get the crowd going. James found Damian Jones for a pair and then was on the receiving end of one from Reaves to extend the lead to 47-39.
In addition to their strong transition offense, the Lakers also got going from deep with Lonnie Walker IV and Dennis Schroder each hitting one. That allowed L.A. to take a 66-52 lead into the halftime locker room despite 12 points apiece from Beal and Kuzma.
The Wizards began the second half on an 8-1 run, cutting their deficit in half and forcing a quick Lakers timeout. L.A. struggled to contain Beal in the third quarter as he got going from all three levels to keep his team in it.
Towards the end of the third, the Wizards finally got hot from 3 as Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis each hit one to help their team take the lead back. The Lakers were able to weather the storm with a strong close to the quarter although they still went into the final period trailing 88-87.
Washington began the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run, putting the Lakers in their biggest hole of the night. James responded with a three-point play and then Schroder hit another 3 though to keep it close. LeBron then drilled a 3 of his own to give L.A. the lead and force another Wizards timeout.
At that point, it was just up to the Lakers to close it out and that fell on the shoulders of James in Davis’ absence. He came through with some big buckets down the stretch, also finding open teammates like Bryant and Reaves, but the Wizards still came back and tie it in the final 30 seconds.
Needing a bucket, James took it to the hole and slammed home a thunderous dunk to take back the lead. Beal then hit a couple of free throws to tie it, setting the stage for a game-winning dunk by Bryant on a feed from James.
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