Wayne Ellington and Jordan Clarkson both established career-highs, with 26 and 18 respectively. Ellington in particular was incendiary, going 12 for 20 from the field and playing his part defensively with 3 steals. Clarkson continued to flourish in his starting role, playing 37 minutes and looking more comfortable by the game. Though the Lakers were without Nick Young who had tweaked his ankle in practice yesterday, Jeremy Lin became the spark plug off the bench, shooting poorly from the field but dishing 8 much needed dimes. Jordan Hill battled hard on the boards, taking down 11 rebounds and helping to limit the usually potent Nene and Marcin Gortat duo to just 17 points. Put all this together? A first half in which the Lakers dominated, leading by double digits until midway through the third quarter.
For a undermanned, inexperienced Lakers team, this is very, very good news.
The bad news? This is still the 2014-2015 Los Angeles Lakers. And Kobe Bryant, Julius Randle and Steve Nash aren't walking through that door.
The Lakers lost their ninth consecutive game tonight, falling 98-92 to the Washington Wizards. All-Star starting guard John Wall was every bit as good as that honor indicates, posting a near triple-double with 21 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists on the night. He was the latest in a litany of point guards to destroy the purple and gold over the years, getting any shot he wanted en route to a 8 for 12 shooting performance. The fact that he missed 7 free throws and still ended up with that stat line is a strange testament to just how great he was tonight.
Combine Wall's fantastic night with standout performances from Bradley Beal (19 points), Otto Porter Jr. (12 points) and Kris Humphries (8 points, 11 boards), the Wiz Kids rallied from the aforementioned early double digit deficit that put them down 20 for most of the first half. It was clear that Washington had come to town taking the Lakers lightly, and guys like Ellington and Lin feasted off of their lackadaisical nature early on.
However, as we've so often have seen this year, and early burst from the Lakers is never quite as indicative of their talents as it is the other team's mindset. Wall soon took over and LA was outscored by 17 points in the second half. It looked...really easy. Oh well.
Still, as we make our way through half a season without Bryant, Randle and Nash, the silver linings and love of the Lakers are what will keep us going. Clarkson looked impressive once again, Hill continued to build trade value and the Show again looked adequate on defense for a half, even if it was mostly a sneak attack trap game syndrome for the Wiz.
Yes, it was another loss for the Lakers. But at least it was fun. Silver linings, indeed.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino