John Wall scored a season-high 40 points Sunday to lead the Washington Wizards to a 128-110 home victory against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I just came in early, got a lot of work in trying to prepare myself,” said the star point guard, who also dished out 14 assists. “We were kind of short-handed [and] just trying to be more aggressive. Trying to pick my points when to attack and be aggressive scoring and finding my teammates.”
James, whose 13 points were a career-low against Washington, didn’t play in the fourth quarter as the Lakers (18-12) trailed by at least 15 the entire second half and never truly threatened.
Guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led Los Angeles with 25 points off the bench. The Lakers played with forward Brandon Ingram (sprained left ankle) and point guard Rajon Rondo, who has been out since Nov. 15 with a broken right hand.
“Not a lot of good to take from [Sunday] other than the lesson of ‘you don’t show up to play in the NBA, you will not win,’” said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. “We did not have the proper energy to win an NBA game tonight. Give Washington credit. Those guys were short-handed, as were we, but they found it and they brought it to us.”
Los Angeles, in town after a road win over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday, resembled a team on the end of a back-to-back set. Washington (12-18), which ranks near the bottom of the league in team rebounding, grabbed 51 boards to 43 for the Lakers, the NBA’s ninth-best rebounding team.
The Wizards scored 66 points in the paint along with 18 second-chance points.
More astonishing, the Wizards had two fewer players after the team agreed to trade Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers Jr. to the Phoenix Suns for veteran forward Trevor Ariza. In addition, Wizards small forward Otto Porter Jr. missed his third straight game with a right knee contusion, and power forward Markieff Morris sat out the second half after suffering a stinger.
“It’s probably one of our best games of the year against a team that is hot and really good,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. “We are short-handed. We had opportunities [for other players] to play extra minutes and guys did a great job. The energy was great.”
The trade for Ariza, 33, who returns to Washington after spending two seasons with the team in 2012-14, will be finalized Monday. Ariza, who ranks in the top 30 in steals, is regarded as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal, who scored 25 points and 12 rebounds in Sunday’s win, said it’s difficult to see teammates traded, but looks forward to once again playing alongside Ariza.
“Trevor has a spark about him and a true desire for winning,” Beal said. “He’s always accepts the challenge defensively and his leadership qualities. He’s great character guy. A perfect fit.”