Opening Statements: Wizards at Lakers, Game 46 | Wizards Blog Truth About

Opening Statements: Wizards at Lakers, Game 46

Updated: January 27, 2015

Washington Wizards vs Los Angeles Lakers


Hey, hey, hey! Whatcha got to say?! Hollywoooooooood … Hollywood swingin’.

The Washington Wizards are in Los Angeles tonight. And, well, all those basketball fiends that marked this one on their calendars are going to disappointed. Not in the result (a Wizards win, probably), but in the some of the names featured in the opening credits.

On the East Side, Paul Pierce is questionable with “a nagging sore left toe.” John Wall is questionable, too, with a sore Achilles tendon. Neither player participated in Tuesday morning’s shootaround. There is a chance one or both could play, sure, but neither should. The Wizards need both Wall and Pierce humming and ready to roll in April much more than they do tonight.

That’s not to say that playing without the captain will be a cakewalk for Washington. Wall has averaged 24.7 points and 14.7 assists in three games vs. the Lakers on the road. And, as we’ve established, without Wall, the sometimes very average Wizards wings won’t benefit from the Optimus Dime Effect.

However, on the West Side, Kobe Bryant is out. Everybody knows this. (More on him below.) But news! Nick Young is unlikely to play … after suffering an ankle injury in practice yesterday. The Lakers are calling it a moderate sprain—Young went in for an MRI today, according to a report from Inside Local.

The Wizards—lifted by a 17-point, 16-assist game by Wall—cruised to a 111-95 win over the Lakers in early December. It’ll be interesting to see what they’ll do without him for the first time since 2012-13.

Does Martell Webster remember how to make it rain from 3-point land? Has Otto Porter learned anything? Can Andre Miller physically play more than 25 minutes? We’re about to find out.

Darius Soriano (@forumbluegold), editor of the ESPN TrueHoop Network’s Lakers blog, Forum Blue & Gold, stops by TAI with a Cali cool assist: a Q&A preview of tonight’s hoops action.

Teams: Wizards at Lakers
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Venue: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California
Television: CSN/TWC
Radio: 710 AM ESPN/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 8.5 points

#1) Let’s get this out of the way. Kobe is going to have surgery to repair his torn rotator cuff and is, probably, out for the rest of the season. Think he should hang it up? Think he will?

@forumbluegold: I’m strongly leaning towards no on both questions, but I think it’s silly to think there aren’t reasons to go the other way. At some point, even someone as maniacal as Kobe will stop enjoying the process and putting in the work necessary to play at a level he’s comfortable with. Could this surgery and the pending rehab be the thing that makes him question that? What about how good a roster would surround him next season? Does he want to play at what could be a diminished level for another bad team? These are real questions that you have to figure Kobe will ask himself at some point. Again, I think he comes back for his final year and tries to go out on his own terms. That’s the only Kobe I know, but it wouldn’t shock me if he decided against that.

#2) Where have all the rim protectors gone? Los Angeles is allowing the fifth-most points in the paint per game (45.0).

@forumbluegold: The Lakers’ issues defending the paint go well beyond the fact that Jordan Hill, Robert Sacre and Carlos Boozer aren’t deterrents in the lane (I don’t include Ed Davis or Tarik Black in this group because they are much better than those other guys). The root cause, to me, is that they allow players to get into the paint so easily in the first place. The Lakers do not possess one plus perimeter defender (no matter what Byron Scott thinks of Ronnie Price and Wes Johnson), and that shows up with wings consistently getting into the paint. Even when the bigs do rotate and challenge, no one is helping the helper and that leads to dump off passes or offensive rebounds for easy put-backs. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

#3) Nick Young has said he hates the Wizards (don’t miss him). He’s also said that during his time in Washington he once (and he probably meant just one time) ran a play properly: “I tried to slow it down. I tried to be a serious guy. Pass the ball here, pass the ball there, run the pick-and-roll. I felt like a robot.”

And, now on L.A. with Kobe hurt, Nick Young has a plan to fix everything, as reported by ESPN’s Baxter Holmes: “Just give me the ball and get out of the way.”

How does it feel to be the mid-2000s Wizards West?

@forumbluegold: Do we get Andray Baltche?

On a serious note, I’ve written that the way Young played last year (generally playing hard and showing a bit more unselfishness in his game) was a big surprise to me. I’ve also said that over the past two years of losing, his genuine love of being a Laker and fun loving attitude has dulled the edge of some of the losing. However, this season he has played quite poorly and has taken a step back (no pun intended) in how often he looks to move the ball and how engaged he is defensively. His recent effort level against the Rockets and subsequent second-half benching is also a concern. So, going back to your 2000s Wizards comment, can the Lakers win the lottery and draft a John Wall-type talent?

#4) Even with Young, the self-proclaimed “greatest 3-point shooter in the world,” on the roster, Los Angeles is shooting just 34.8 percent as a team from long range. And nearly a quarter of their points come from midrange 2s. Neither stat lends much confidence in the guys in forum blue and gold, given the Wizards allow the fewest points in the paint per game (38.5).

If you were Byron Scott, what’d be the game plan vs. Washington?

@forumbluegold: Normally, I’d say that the Lakers need to try to use their depth of quality bigs to try and work the offensive glass and overwhelm their opponent. On a lot of nights, that might just work, but with the Nene and Gortat roaming the opposing paint I don’t see that as a viable strategy. So, my game plan would mostly hinge on ball movement, quick drives after ball reversals, and pray that some of their 3-point shots fall. I’m not very confident this will work.

#5) Are you glad you’re not Byron Scott?

@forumbluegoldI have been pretty hard on Scott this year. While I don’t like watching a losing team, I understand the talent at his disposal is low and that, ultimately, is what wins games in this league. However, he’s done several things this year in terms of process—starting Price over Jeremy Lin, playing Ryan Kelly at small forward, dismissing the value of the 3-point shot, etc.—that I have strongly disagreed with. So while I’m happy I am not Scott, I sort of wish I could have him change up some of his tactics, you know? Maybe like “Being John Malkovich” or something.

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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.