I’m going to keep it short and (as) sweet (as possible). Tonight the Lakers play their 4th game in 5 nights. All of those games were/will be played in different cities. From Portland to Los Angeles to Philadelphia and now to Washington, D.C to face the Wizards.
I frame things this way because I expect the Lakers to be worn down in this game. Not just physically, but mentally. All the travel is one thing, but add to it the burden and frustration of losing along with the Kobe announcement and you have a cocktail of burnout waiting to happen. Will it be tonight that it hits?
The Lakers have lost 7 straight games, but it’s not as if the Wizards are blowing the league back with strong play either. Especially in relation to expectations. Some expected them to be in the top 3 teams in the East, but they have stumbled to a 7-8 record which has them 11th in the conference. There are clear reasons to point to — injuries, some roster turnover, guys finding their niche in new roles — but at least part of it is tied to John Wall’s performance. As noted (and David Aldrdige quoted) by our friends at Truth About It in their game preview, Wall’s play is not up to last year’s standards and the entire roster is feeling the effects of that.
Do I think this will matter tonight? No, I don’t. Wall was amazing in a win over the Cavs on Tuesday night, scoring 35 points with 10 assists and 5 steals. Meanwhile, the Lakers guards struggle to defend, the back line defenders (besides Hibbert) offer little resistance, and, as mentioned above, I expect the Lakers to be sluggish overall. This is not a good formula for facing an invigorated Wall.
This does not mean the Lakers have no chance. And, at some point, the team is very likely to have a game where they break through, shoot well, get a few timely defensive stops, and pull out a win. Tonight would be as good a night as any to make this happen. After all, the Wizards did travel from Cleveland last night while the Lakers only came from Philly. There is a chance they will be as tired or more than the visiting team. Or maybe I’m reaching. We shall see.
Where you can watch: 4pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM Los Angeles.