Beal and Westbrook help Wizards upend Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA – LeBron James scored 31 points and came within a rebound of producing a triple-double. Montrezl Harrell chipped in 26. Kyle Kuzma did his part with a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds).

It wasn’t enough for the Los Angeles Lakers to end their mini-losing skid. What looked like would be an easy runaway win against one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference turned into a scratch-your-head disappointing defeat.

That’s because the Lakers had no real answers to stopping Brandley Beal or Russell Westbrook. Beal scored 33 points and Westbrook added 32 to lead the Washington Wizards to a surprising 127-124 overtime win at STAPLES Center.

“They have two dominant players having huge nights,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.

The month of February must be an overtime appreciation month for the Lakers. Already, the Lakers have played in four overtime games this month. Until their overtime loss to the Wizards Monday night, the Lakers had been undefeated when playing in the extra period.

Beal and Westbrook would have something to say about the outcome of this contest as the Wizards handed the Lakers their third loss in a row.  Beal was steady all night in his scoring output, while Westbrook showed explosive spurts throughout the game, including scoring the final basket of the night.

“They were just scoring the ball,” Kuzma said. “We had mental lapses. We didn’t do our best job containing the ball. We didn’t do our best job loading in transition with Russ [Russell Westbrook] and him getting into the paint. And credit to a couple of their guys hitting some big shots.”

Up until the middle of the third quarter, the Wizards looked every bit like a team ready to hop on their team bus and get out of dodge as the Lakers raced to a 17-point lead. When guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope swished a 3-point shot to give the Lakers 70-53 lead early in the third quarter, it looked as though Los Angeles would coast to the win.

Looks can be deceiving. After being outscored in the first and second quarters, and looking every bit like a team that was about to get completely run out of Southen California, the Wizards discovered that they can play ball too.

The Wizards outrebounded the Lakers (24-18) in the second half and outscored Los Angeles in the final three quarters, including the overtime period to upend the reigning champs on their home floor.

“Give them credit,” Vogel said. “They made a run right around that point. I’d have to go back and look at the tape to see exactly what happened during that stretch, but give them credit.”

You can blame it on the legs for the Lakers. In the second half, the Lakers didn’t quite seem to have their legs under them. The Lakers’ 3-point shooting is a good indicator of this. After halftime, the Lakers shot just 30 percent (6 of 20) from 3-point land. For the game itself, the Lakers connected on just 15 of the 44 long-range shots they attempted against the Wizards.

“We’re in a rough patch right now, but we’ll figure it out. That’s for sure,” James said.

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