Defense headlined what the Washington Wizards wanted to incorporate into their vocabulary. It happened Thursday to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 111-95, before a raucous crowd at Capital One Arena in northwest D.C.
After the Lakers put up 34 first-quarter points, they scored just 61 the rest of the way, shooting just 36 percent from the floor for the game — the lowest percentage an opponent shot this season against Washington.
The Lakers (5-7) came into Thursday’s game ranked eighth in the league in shooting percentage at nearly 47 percent.
“We stopped giving [up] layups,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “In the second half, we played much better. It’s a start. [The defense is] not solved. It was a solid basketball game for a lot of guys.”
One Wizard who filled the stat sheet was All-Star point guard John Wall with 23 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three massive blocked shots.
“I’ve never seen a point guard do what he does [with] transition blocks,” Brooks said. “He might be the best ever at doing that. He just has impeccable timing, strength, jumping ability. He pursues and chases down guys. There are no uncontested layups when he’s around.”
Wall nearly outpaced the entire Lakers squad, which only recorded four blocks.
“I’m just waiting for [an opponent] to go shoot,” he said of his defensive prowess. “Just setting them up.”
The Wizards (6-5) faced a Lakers team that played Wednesday in Boston and marked the Wizards best defensive effort so far.
The Lakers had 19 turnovers and shot only 3-23 from beyond the arc.
Lakers guards Jordan Clarkson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 15 points each.
Prized rookie Lonzo Ball scored 10 points and dished out eight assists, but shot only 3-of-12 from the floor.
Unlike the Oct. 25 overtime loss in Los Angeles, the Wizards didn’t have to face Larry Nance Jr., who missed Thursday’s game after fracturing his left hand on Nov. 2 against Portland Trail Blazers. Nance scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Wizards last month.
Wizards power forward Markieff Morris playing in just his fourth game after returning from sports hernia surgery, scored 16 points and five rebounds.
Otto Porter Jr. recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Bradley Beal scored 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting.
The Wizards shot 52 percent from the floor.
“We get out in transition and get our offense going, we are pretty much unstoppable,” Beal said. “Tonight was a great start. We just have to be more consistent.”
The Wizards host the Atlanta Hawks (2-9) Saturday on Veterans Day.