- By GREG BEACHAM
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Bradley Beal scored six of his 33 points on three consecutive possessions late in overtime, and the Washington Wizards extended their longest winning streak in three years to five straight with a 127-124 victory over the slumping Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.
Russell Westbrook scored six of his 32 points in overtime for the Wizards, who rallied from a 17-point deficit in the second half. Washington then took advantage of a missed free throw by LeBron James late in regulation and went on to its first win over the Lakers at Staples Center since March 2017.
“It feels different, in a great way,” Beal said of the Wizards’ impressive five-game run against Boston, Houston, Denver, Portland and the Lakers. “It feels great, but at the same time, we still haven’t done a damn thing. We realize that, and we keep telling each other that. We’ve still got bad habits we need to break, but we don’t discount what we did.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left in overtime to trim the Wizards’ lead to 125-124. Westbrook made a layup before missing a free throw, but James and Kyle Kuzma missed late 3s before the buzzer.
“It’s been tough, but we’ve been sticking together,” Westbrook said of the Wizards, who started the season 6-17. “That’s the main thing. If you get caught up with everything else going on, teams and players tend to come apart, but we’ve been sticking together and communicating on how to become a better team, and it’s been paying off for us.”
James had 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who struggled in the second half of their fourth loss in five games.
After carrying the Lakers back in the fourth quarter, James made a tying layup with 9.8 seconds left in regulation, but missed the ensuing free throw to put LA ahead. Beal missed a long jumper at the buzzer.
Montrezl Harrell had a season-high 26 points and nine rebounds for the defending NBA champions, who have lost three straight for the first time this season — not coincidentally during three consecutive games without Anthony Davis and Dennis Schröder.
“It takes a whole team to collectively get wins, and right now we have two of our main rotation guys out,” said Kuzma, who had 14 points. “Obviously there’s no excuses. You don’t want to lose to an under-.500 team like that, but this is the NBA and anybody can win. We just have to figure it out.”
Davis missed his fourth straight game, and the All-NBA big man is out for at least three more weeks with a calf injury. Schröder will miss at least one more game under the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Wizards: Washington hadn’t won even four consecutive games since its last five-game winning streak in February 2018. … Former Lakers C Moe Wagner had six points, and former Lakers swingman Isaac Bonga didn’t play.
Lakers: Marc Gasol converted a four-point play in the first quarter. He finished with seven points in 27 minutes. … Caldwell-Pope scored 21 points.
THE KING’S MINUTES
The 36-year-old James played over 43 minutes during the Lakers’ fourth overtime game in 17 days, all of them at home against teams with losing records.
James is third in the NBA in total minutes, with over 200 more than anyone else on the Lakers’ roster. He insists the workload doesn’t bother him, even after learning he’ll have to go to the All-Star Game instead of resting up.
“It’s something I’ve done before,” James said. “I can continue to do it, but I would much rather us be whole.”
Wizards: At the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
Lakers: At the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell, left, grabs a loose ball away from Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook during the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Feb. 22, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)