If the Los Angeles Lakers were going to go into their final 10 regular season games with a little wiggle room, they were going to have go 2-0 on their mini Eastern Conference road trip. They beat the Orlando Magic on Monday, but they couldn’t get the job done against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, losing 116-107.
The Lakers, for the most part, played bully ball against the Wizards and it worked for a little while, but then the Wizards took that away from them and they couldn’t punish them from behind the arc. As a team, the Lakers shot 10-34 from 3-point range. The Wizards made fewer 3-pointers, but they made tougher shots and played better defense.
The Lakers didn’t make things easy on themselves either, though. Talen Horton-Tucker in particular was forcing things when he really didn’t need to. There are have been nights where Lakers fans have asked themselves “how is this kid only 20 years old?” but Wednesday night was one of those nights where his age spoke for itself.
The Lakers now find themselves in a really tough spot in the Western Conference standings. With their latest loss, their cushion over the No. 6 seed Dallas Mavericks is just 1.5 games. Not only that, but the Portland Trail Blazers are slowly closing the gap.
LeBron James may be back soon, but the Lakers aren’t in a position where they can just wait for him to come back. After their next games against the Sacramento Kings and Toronto Raptors, the Lakers will play the LA Clippers, Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks in succession.
If these last two games were “must-wins,” the next two games are must-must wins.