Lakers end road trip against Washington Wizards

The Lakers defeated the Wizards on Feb. 29th in a game that went overtime, 134-131.

WASHINGTON, DC — The Lakers, even after a waffling start, took care of business in Canada as they waxed the Toronto Raptors. But even though they’ve gone an impressive 4-1 in this current road trip (and winning 7 of their last 8 games), the 43-33 Lakers (10 games above .500) are still somehow jammed in the 9th spot in the Western Conference.

The Kings have gone 4-2 in their last 6 games to stay ahead while the Suns have won 5 of their last 7 contests to both stay ahead of the Lakers. And L.A. can’t relax because the team that’s chasing them, the 10th seed Warriors, have won their last 5. All they can do is continue to win games (5 games left after this Wednesday night game) and let the chips fall where they may. If they have to win two games in the play-in (which the #9 or #10 seed has to do to advance), so be it.

In the meantime, the weary Lakers have one last stop in this arduous voyage. They have the Washington Wizards in the nation’s capital.

It’s easy to laugh at the poor record of the Wizards. They are 15-61, which is the second worst in the league. But one of those 15 wins came on Tuesday night when they upset the Milwaukee Bucks. On any given night, a team with a poor record can defeat a contender.

The Wizards played in L.A. on Leap Day and it ended up being an overtime game that ended in favor of the Lakers. So the Lakers have to be careful once again. Their biggest enemy for a lot of the season has been themselves. It’s not to discredit the opposition but the Lakers have come out lethargic on a lot of these games this year. And they can hardly afford that against the Wizards, who intend to play spoiler against L.A. After all, the Warriors are hot on their trail and the Lakers would rather climb up to the 7th or 8th seed so they would only have to worry about winning one game instead of two in the play-in to get into the postseason.

The Wizards had an extended injury report before their game on Tuesday. Jordan Poole is not one of those guys, though, and he is capable of a 30-point game if the Lakers aren’t careful (Poole did have 34 points against L.A.). Deni Advija and Corey Kispert combined for 50 points against the Bucks and you know they’re going to be more aggressive than usual due to the stack of injuries the Wizards have.

The Lakers and Wizards never broke away from each other in that aforementioned February night. But the Wizards made 17 threes against them while L.A. only put in 8. I fear a lot of things about the Lakers but the one we consistently harp about is the three-point shooting. Yes, the Lakers have gotten so much better about making them but teams can have a field day against them since their defense either breaks down or has shooters open by design. L.A. has actually allows the third most threes in both makes and attempts (9th worst in percentage allowed at .371). So they gotta tighten the screws on that as the play-in (and playoffs) approach.

We don’t know if the Lakers are sitting out their stars due to this being a second game of a back-to-back. Maybe LeBron James sits to rest his 95-year-old bones while Anthony Davis (40 and 15 against the Wiz last Feb!) plays since he has prided so much on being available for this season. Nevertheless, the Lakers hope to end this road trip on an even higher note as they have a chance to go 5-1 on this trek.

Just don’t give Washington any hope on putting on their robe and wizard hat.