On Tuesday night at Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers led by as many as 19 points before losing 98-92 to the Washington Wizards.
Rookie Jordan Clarkson set a new career-high with 18 points, and sixth year guard Wayne Ellington set his own personal best with 28 points. The Lakers' starting backcourt combined for 46 points and scored half the Lakers' points on the night. However, those career-highs did not help snap the Lakers' losing streak, which increased to nine games after the loss.
After building a healthy 19-point lead in the first half, the Lakers hit a wall, and this wall hit back. More accurately, Wizards guard John Wall turned up the intensity and took over the second half.
"The guy can get it coast to coast faster than anybody in this league, and you can have sometimes two or three guys back. He still can get to the basket," Lakers coach Byron Scott spoke about Wall after the game. "He's just that good."
Wall would finish with 21 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds, falling only one rebound shy of a triple-double.
Staying positive after the loss, the Lakers' coach praised his young 22-year-old rookie point guard, who was only making the third start of his young career.
"The first 40 games, it was more of just [Clarkson] really observing and watching and learning from the bench," Scott said after the game. "I knew I was going to give him a chance to play and see what he can do. I just thought at this time, it was the right time."
With Clarkson finishing with a career-high, Scott added, "So far, in the first three games, I haven't been disappointed."
Clarkson's teammates also had positive words for the rookie.
"J.C. can hoop," Ellington said after the game. "We all knew that already. It was just a matter of him coming out and showing and getting his opportunity. The kid can play. It's just the start of it. He's got a long career ahead of him."
When asked about the Lakers' hot start on Tuesday, Ellington said he spoke to the team about coming out aggressive and not falling into the trap of starting slow.
"I just made up my mind: I'm going to come out aggressive," Ellington said he took it upon himself to score the basketball early.
By halftime, Ellington had 20 points. Unfortunately, the Lakers peaked too early, and poor shooting in the second half undid the first 24 minutes of positive play.
"We went through a stretch in the third quarter where we just couldn't make a shot," Scott lamented after the game. "That was basically the game."
In the second half, the Wizards outscored the Lakers 52 to 35, and the Lakers shot only 33 percent following the intermission.
On the season, the Lakers fell to 12-34. Next, Kobe Bryant has surgery on Wednesday, and Pau Gasol returns to Los Angeles with the Chicago Bulls on Thursday.