Despite a huge run from the Spurs starting late in the third quarter, the Lakers were able to weather the storm and pull out a hard-fought win on the road. Led by another triple-double from LeBron James as well as a stellar bench performance from Dwight Howard, the Lakers improved to 5-1 on the season and secured sole ownership of the top spot in the West.
The Good From the Lakers’ Win Over the Spurs
Dwight once again came off the bench and gave the Lakers some much-needed energy minutes off the bench. An instrumental part of the Lakers jumping out to an early lead while also helping the Lakers hold off a surging Spurs team late, Howard chipped in 14 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, and two blocks on the evening.
His continued gritty play has been a breath of fresh air for the Lakers and while the bench has proven inconsistent on the whole, Howard has been a bright spot throughout. Though many fans have been clamoring for a move to the starting lineup over JaVale McGee, it seems Howard is more than comfortable in his role off the bench. So long as the Lakers keep winning, Frank Vogel doesn’t have much incentive to tweak the starting lineup.
James was once again stellar in the Lakers’ win over the Spurs. With his second triple-double in a row, James made an impact all over the floor by pouring in in 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. While he didn’t dominate in the scoring column, he didn’t really need to. James did an excellent job facilitating the offense and when he was on the court, things seemed to operate considerably smoother.
Though he didn’t post another 40/20 game, Anthony Davis put together an excellent two-way performance by putting up 25 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks. He put up a double-double and scored over 20 points but Davis’ biggest impact arguably came on the defensive end where he sent back those four shots. Davis was also a large part in holding LaMarcus Aldridge in check – routinely contesting his looks or forcing Aldridge to simply give up the ball.
The Bad From the Lakers’ Win Over the Spurs
Bench Shooters Minus Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
The bench shooters had a rough night from deep, going just x-x on the night. Though Kyle Kuzma gets a pass coming off an injury, Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels were non-factors from the field. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope surprisingly had a strong night and seems to be finally getting closer to getting over his early-season shooting woes. Though still inconsistent, any production is better than his first few games of the season where he didn’t make a shot from the field until the third game of the season.
That said, the rest of the bench shooters didn’t carry their weight. The Lakers need better showings from Daniels and Cook as both have important floor-spacing roles and see decent minutes alongside James and Davis.
The Ugly From the Lakers’ Win Over the Spurs
The Third Quarter
The Lakers had a 13 point lead at the half that would be cut down to just five at the end of the third quarter. With most of the damage coming as LeBron sat, the Laker offense went relatively stagnant and struggled to keep pace with the Spurs, getting outscored 29-21. The Spurs would take that momentum and push the Lakers to the brink in the fourth quarter – at one point tying the game with under five minutes to go.
The Laker offense has struggled mightily so far while James rests. Though they have plenty of scorers on the court while LeBron sits, they don’t have anyone on the floor truly capable of setting things up for those scorers until Rondo gets back.