LeBron James was at his sluggish worst: a season-low 13 points on 5-of-16 shooting.
So it made sense that Wall’s reeling and undermanned Washington Wizards, amid so much losing and infighting and roster flux, would dominate James and his rising Los Angeles Lakers throughout a 128-110 victory Sunday night.
“We’re a team that’s built on energy and depth,” James said. “We didn’t have either tonight.”
A day after he and Lonzo Ball each registered a triple-double in a win at Charlotte, the four-time NBA MVP had six rebounds and three assists and sat out the fourth quarter of a lopsided laugher.
“We did a good job of making it a little difficult on him, showing him a lot of bodies, active hands,” said Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who had 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Wall said the key for Washington was its defensive effort, something often missing this season.
“Tried not to let LeBron get going,” Wall said. “He missed a couple easy shots he always makes. Didn’t get a couple calls driving to the basket. … It’s one game, but we know he is who he is.”
Nothing the Lakers tried to do to slow Wall worked as the Wizards emphatically ended a four-game losing streak, going up by as many as 18 in the first quarter and 27 in the third.
“Box-and-1. Triangle-and-2. I haven’t seen that since high school,” Wall said.
James and the Lakers had been 5-1 in the second half of back-to-back sets this season, but they opened Sunday’s game by going 5 for 19, 0 for 8 on 3s. Washington, meanwhile, made its first five shots and 13 of its first 18, taking a 26-8 lead on Wall’s layup.
Wall ended the first half with a baseline jumper over 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler to make it 71-51. Wall turned and slapped palms with a couple of front-row folks, then spread his arms wide and basked in the ovation from a home crowd populated by plenty of spectators in LA jerseys.
“I know all the Lakers fans out there probably was upset,” Wall said, rolling his eyes.
By then, Wall already had 28 points, outscoring LA’s five starters — James, Ball, Chandler, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — by six.
Recently acquired reserve forward Sam Dekker scored a season-high 20 for Washington, including a buzzer-beating bank shot at the end of the third quarter that put the hosts ahead 99-76.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a season-high 25 points for the Lakers, 15 in the second quarter.
Washington was without starting center Dwight Howard, who had back surgery, and injured starting forward Otto Porter Jr., while a pair of players — Kelly Oubre Jr. and Austin Rivers — were unavailable because they are on their way out of town via a trade that is still not officially complete.
Didn’t matter on this night, thanks in large part to Wall.
“When he gets going,” Dekker said, “it really sets the tone for us.”
Lakers: Michael Beasley was back with the team, but didn’t play, after being away for personal reasons. … JaVale McGee missed the game with flu-like symptoms. … A pair of sneakers James wore during a game at the Wizards a year ago Monday — one black, one white, with the word “equality” in capital gold letters on the back of each — was recently placed on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. … Ball finished with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Wizards: The deal bringing Trevor Ariza to Washington from the Phoenix Suns is still not official, so Oubre and Rivers were listed as inactive Sunday because of “trade pending.” … Markieff Morris left at halftime because of a neck strain. … Porter missed his third game in a row with a bruised knee. … Jeff Green started in Porter’s place and scored 20 points.
Lakers: At Brooklyn on Tuesday to close a four-game road trip.
Wizards: At Atlanta on Tuesday.