Wizards look to remain unbeaten versus Lakers

LOS ANGELES -- The Washington Wizards will try for their first 4-0 start since 1978 when they play the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on Wednesday.

The Wizards opened their four-game road trip with a 109-104 victory at the Denver Nuggets on Monday, marking their fourth 3-0 start in franchise history and first since 2005. Washington, which started 0-3 last season, is the last unbeaten team in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 1974.

"That's awesome, but we don't care about that," Wizards center Marcin Gortat told the Washington Post after the win against the Nuggets. "It's got nothing to do with achieving our goal. It's cool, but we are more exciting about the win (in Denver) in a tough spot more than anything. Now we got to continue to play hard and get the one in L.A."

The Lakers (1-2) will try to build off their most recent performance against the visiting New Orleans Pelicans.

Los Angeles trailed by 20 points late in the third quarter on Sunday, prompting coach Luke Walton to try a new combination of Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram. They worked well together, closing the gap before the Lakers moved ahead by five points midway through the fourth quarter. The Pelicans strung together an 11-0 run, however, putting them back on top for good in the 119-112 victory.

Clarkson scored a team-high 24 points off the bench after putting up 18 and 17 points in the first two games. He's shooting 51.1 percent from the field, including 7-for-14 from 3-point distance.

"What I'm most proud about with Jordan is he's sticking with it," Walton said. "He was struggling in training camp and he was struggling in the preseason. He's just kept working and working, he just keeps working. He's had some nice successful nights so far since the season's started."

Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who turns 20 on Friday, hasn't shot the ball well in his first three games, but he's putting up impressive overall numbers, averaging 13.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists.

Ball went up against one of the top backcourt defenders in Patrick Beverley of the Los Angeles Clippers in the season opener, and he'll face another tough matchup against John Wall of the Wizards. Wall led the NBA with 157 steals last season and led all point guards with 49 blocked shots.

The Lakers will benefit by having Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for a second straight game after the shooting guard was suspended the first two for a DUI arrest in Michigan last March. Caldwell-Pope was the only starter who scored in double figures against the Pelicans, finishing with 20 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

Caldwell-Pope spent the past four seasons in the Eastern Conference with the Detroit Pistons and has faced the Wizards 13 times in his career, averaging 12.7 points and shooting 44.3 percent from the floor.

Wizards reserve guard Jodie Meeks should feel comfortable inside Staples Center. He spent two seasons with the Lakers from 2012-14, averaging a career-high 15.7 points in the 2013-2014 season.
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