LeBron James had 23 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Washington Wizards 124-106 on Tuesday night for their first back-to-back victories since mid-January.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored 29 points and JaVale McGee had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers, who had lost 20 of 27 and plummeted out of the playoff race since their last set of consecutive wins.
Two days after beating Sacramento, the Lakers comfortably won this meeting of 11th-place teams whose playoff dreams have been wrecked by injuries. Washington has lost John Wall and Dwight Howard, while the Lakers don’t have Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart or Reggie Bullock.
Bradley Beal scored 21 of his 32 points in the second half for the Wizards, who opened a four-game road trip with their fifth straight loss. Washington (30-45) is on the brink of missing the playoffs for just the second time in six seasons.
The Lakers are out for the sixth consecutive season, tripling the previous longest postseason absence in franchise history.
Los Angeles opened a 19-point lead in the third quarter despite Beal’s 17 points in the period. Washington trimmed it to single digits midway through the fourth, but James and Caldwell-Pope hit big shots down the stretch.
James fell three rebounds short of his second consecutive triple-double. He is fourth in the NBA with eight triple-doubles this season even though he has only played in 54 games during his first year with the Lakers.
Wizards: Trevor Ariza started despite a groin injury, but the former Lakers swingman played only seven minutes. The product of Westchester High School and UCLA had missed Washington’s previous two games. … Thomas Bryant had seven points and six rebounds against his former team. He showed promise as a rookie last season while playing 15 games for the Lakers and making the All-G League first team, but their front office waived him in July to save $1.38 million in salary cap room. He has started 46 games for Washington.
Lakers: Bullock missed his second straight game with right plantar fasciitis. … Coach Luke Walton will wait to see how James feels in the morning before deciding whether he’ll play at Utah on Wednesday night. The Lakers are managing the 34-year-old superstar’s minutes late in their lost season. … James airballed a free throw in the first quarter. He entered the game hitting a career-worst 66.9 percent of his free throws.
Wizards: At the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
Lakers: At the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.