1994.

That’s the last year the Lakers lost nine games in a row. Vlade Divac was the highest-paid player on the team at $4.1M, and Kurt Rambis and James Worthy were still on the team. How’s that for perspective?

When the night began, it sure looked like the Lakers would be taking this one into the win column. They’d almost won in Washington, DC, the last time these two teams played, and it appeared as though revenge was on the agenda. Despite missing Kobe Bryant (who is out for the rest of the season with a torn rotator cuff) and Nick Young (nursing a sprained ankle), the young guys played the game freely, with rookie Jordan Clarkson leading the way.

The Lakers led by as much as 19 points in the first half, and managed to maintain an 11-point advantage going into the break. The second half was a different game (or the same game as every other game this season, depending on how you look at it). The Wizards woke up, and the Lakers, unfortunately, couldn’t get them to stay down. They were outplayed right into their 34th loss of the season.


 

What Went Right

Wayne Ellington – No Nick Young or Kobe Bryant? No problem. The Lakers may have lost tonight’s game, but it wasn’t because of Ellington’s performance. He finished with a career high 28 points on 12-of-20 from the field, hitting three threes in the process, and managed to grab a trio of rebounds, hand out three assists and collect three steals.

Jordan Clarkson – What’s a rookie to do at the starting position when the star player is injured? Run with it. In his new starting gig (at least until Byron Scott decides to play with another rotation), Clarkson has looked more and more confident playing with the big boys. Tonight he finished with 18 points on 8-of-18 from the field, a career high in points and field goals made, and added in three rebounds, three assists and a steal.

Ed Davis – 6-of-7 from the field tonight for 14 points. Not bad for the player on the team with the highest shooting percentage at 59.3%. Davis is like a quiet riot. He blocks a shot here, grabs a rebound there, puts up a hook shot, and suddenly he’s got 10 points.

1st Half – The Lakers shot 48% and 52% from the field in the first and second quarters respectively. They had six steals and forced 10 Wizards turnovers in all, which they converted into 13 points. They just looked more lively and efficient in the first half.


 

What Went Wrong

Everyone Not Named Clarkson, Ellington or Davis – The Lakers shot 42.5% from the field for the game. Without Clarkson, Ellington and Davis, they were 11-42, 26%. Jordan Hill had an uncharacteristically bad shooting night, going just 4-13. Jeremy Lin, despite handing out eight assists, went just 1-5 from the field. Carlos Boozer was a non-factor, scoring just four points. And what happened to Wesley Johnson? He was supposed to be a defensive stopper, or so the plan was earlier in the season. He played over 28 minutes and only managed to produce six points on 1-7, four rebounds a steal and a block.

Rebounds – Lakers were outrebounded 51-38. Hill grabbed 11 himself, and Sacre managed eight, but it wasn’t enough.

2nd Half Woes – If the game lasted just two quarters, the Lakers would be golden, because in the final 24 minutes, they did more to lose than they did to try to win. They were outscored 52-35, for starters. Shooting just 33% from the field will do that. They allowed a 29-point third quarter when they could only muster 19 themselves. The once robust lead dwindled until the lead was gone for good.

Former Laker Ron Artest/Metta World Peace/Panda’s Friend sat courtside at tonight’s game. He looks lean, and fit, perhaps eyeing a return? It would be a welcomed homecoming for sure.

Next up Thursday, it’s the return of Pau Gasol to Los Angeles to face his old team. Having a quality Gasol season, he is an All-Star starter and huge part of the Chicago Bulls’ success this season. The Lakers never lost nine games in a row when he was here. And that team in 1994? They actually ended that season losing 10 in a row, but at least they won 33 games.

Box Score


 

Lakers Highlights vs the Washington Wizards:

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