The Washington Wizards ran its home-court winning streak to 16 Thursday, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 116-108.
The win was also the sixth overall for the Wizards, though it didn’t exactly have the feel of a home game.
All-Star guard John Wall, who led the Wizards with 33 points, 11 assists and three steals, admitted the large Laker contingent at Verizon Center got him amped when the team’s fans started to cheer after Los Angeles came back from a 19-point deficit to cut the Wizards’ lead to 96-93 in the fourth quarter.
Wall mouthed “this is my city” after scoring eight straight points to help push the lead back to eight.
“It had a little bit to do with, but just not trying to lose a game,” Wall said of the pro-Laker crowd. “We just wanted to keep the streak going.”
The 16 straight home wins is second-longest streak in franchise history and the longest since the team moved to Verizon Center in 1997. The record is 22, set in the 1974-75 season when the then-Washington Bullets played at the Capital Centre in Landover.
The Wizards, after starting the season at 2-8, are now atop the Southeast Division at 29-20, a half-game ahead of the Atlanta Hawks (29-21), which defeated the Houston Rockets on the road Thursday.
Wizards guard Bradley Beal helped the team extend its lead to double digits in the first by making his first five 3-pointers. He finished the game with 23 points.
His teammate Marcin Gortat tied his season-high in points with 21 and pulled down 14 rebounds. Gortat and Wall are ranked 12th and ninth in the NBA, respectively, in double-doubles.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks praised the team’s offensive performance, but expressed displeasure with its defense.
“I thought we played one good quarter of defense, and 64 points in the second half is not what we’ve seen been doing the last six, seven weeks,” he said. “We’ve got to do better, but we got the win.”
Former Wizards guard Nick Young, who the team drafted in 2007 and spent five seasons in D.C, had just seven points and one rebound in 19 minutes for the Lakers.
The Lakers (17-35) are in a rebuilding mode with a young nucleus led by former Ohio State University guard D’Angelo Russell, who had a team-high 17 points and 11 assists, but also a game-high seven turnovers.
“[The Wizards] just kept getting offensive rebounds and [they] capitalized on them,” said Russell, who turns 21 later this month. “It is hard to come back from that, and turnovers. … We kind of turned the ball over and they scored a lot on that.”
The Wizards will try to keep the home streak going Saturday against the New Orleans Pelicans (19-31), a team they beat last week, 107-94.
During Thursday’s game, the NBA announced its three-point contestants for the All-Star weekend festivities Feb. 17-19 in New Orleans. Wizards forward and former Georgetown University star Otto Porter Jr., who leads the NBA in three-point shooting percentage at 46 percent, will not be a participant. Neither will Beal, who took part in the three-point shootout three years ago.
However, Young will be.
“It’s a shock to me,” Wall said about Porter and Beal being left out. “[Porter’s] shooting the best percentage right now. It’s kind of shocking neither one of them will be there. [Nick] is one of my friends, so I’m not mad at him for being there. I just wish one of my teammates would’ve had an opportunity.”