LOS ANGELES, CA – The Los Angeles Lakers have won 10 straight games for the first time since December 2009, when Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol rode that fast start all the way to their most recent championship.
Nobody is ready to declare the current Lakers are headed for a similar summer after their streak hit double digits with an overwhelming effort against the Washington Wizards.
Still, it’s obvious something special is brewing again in LA.
“That’s the best team in basketball,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “Their record is 17-2 for a reason.”
Anthony Davis had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and LeBron James had 23 points and 11 assists before both superstars took the fourth quarter off in the Lakers’ 17th win in 18 games, 125-103 over Washington on Friday night.
Quinn Cook scored 17 points and JaVale McGee had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the steamrolling Lakers, who went 14-1 in November to soar to the top of the overall NBA standings. Los Angeles hadn’t won this many games in a month since March 2000 — in another season that ended with a banner.
Los Angeles’ 17-2 start matches the best in franchise history, but the Lakers realize true history isn’t made in November or December, which looks much tougher on paper.
“We have championship aspirations, but that’s not what’s here right now,” James said. “What’s here is our next opponent. We want to continue to get better. We have guys who have been there and know what it takes. This is a long process, and we can never shortcut it. But we can enjoy it along the way.”
The up-tempo Wizards have been one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams this season, and the Lakers’ dynamic offense was far too much for them.
Los Angeles outscored Washington 84-36 during a 24-minute span extending from midway through the first quarter until midway through the third, when James’ jumper put the Lakers up by 37. LA made runs of 17-0 and 18-0 during that one-sided stretch, showing off the remarkable chemistry already established in just the 19th game of the season for this newly minted superteam.
“I think we’re tested every night,” Davis said. “We’re going to get everybody’s best shot no matter what, because of who we are. But it’s up to us to make sure we lock in.”
Bradley Beal had 18 points and nine assists and rookie Rui Hachimura had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Wizards, who have lost three of four. Washington had several good stretches, but committed 19 turnovers and dropped to 1-2 on a four-game West Coast road trip.
“They made a fair amount of mistakes just as well, and we forced them into it,” Beal said. “It’s just a matter of sustaining our runs when we have them, and try to keep them from going on such large ones. They are a talented group.”
Washington actually opened with a 15-4 lead before the Lakers began to dominate. Los Angeles jumped to a 21-point lead at halftime with 19 points from Davis, and the Lakers poured it on with an 18-0 run early in the third quarter, eventually taking a 90-51 lead.
Isaiah Thomas scored 10 points to lead the four former Lakers on Washington’s roster.
Wizards: G C.J. Miles is out until at least next week with a left wrist ligament injury. He also missed Thursday’s game at Phoenix. ... Brooks’ jersey will be retired at UC Irvine on Saturday. The Northern California native spent two high-scoring seasons with the Anteaters from 1985-87 before his decade as an NBA player. “It’s humbling,” Brooks said. “It’s awesome. I love Irvine. It’s a terrific school.” ... Shohei Ohtani watched the game from a baseline seat near the Wizards’ bench. The Los Angeles Angels’ two-way performer posed for photos before the game with Hachimura, his fellow Japanese star.
Lakers: Avery Bradley will be re-evaluated this weekend in his return from a hairline fracture in his right leg. The veteran has missed eight games. ... Kyle Kuzma limped off the court at the third-quarter buzzer. He returned to the game for the fourth, but left for the locker room later in the quarter. He has a left ankle sprain, and X-rays were negative, coach Frank Vogel said.
Moe Wagner, the Lakers’ first-round pick in 2018, had seven points and eight rebounds for Washington. The German big man also committed a flagrant foul on Dwight Howard, who responded by hitting both free throws and then dunking on Wagner’s head on the ensuing possession. Wagner eventually went to the locker room favoring his left ankle with several minutes to play.
Howard had eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots in his reunion with the Wizards, who signed him in July 2018. Howard played in just nine early games for Washington before a spinal injury forced him to miss the rest of the season, and his resulting long offseason of inactivity and soul-searching led to his decision to become a role player with the Lakers.
Brooks says Howard has been to the Lakers “exactly what” the Wizards hoped he would be for them: “Unfortunately, he was hurt. I have nothing bad to say about him. He worked hard for us, but just unfortunately didn’t have the health to make a difference for us.”
Wizards: Stay in town to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
Lakers: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.