Picking up yet another win and improving their league-best record to 15-2, the Los Angeles Lakers came back from yet another halftime deficit. Taking down the Spurs for the second time this season, the Lakers grabbed their third straight road win and look to polish off a perfect road trip against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.
Although they are now 15-2, the Lakers haven’t been blowing teams out. They undoubtedly have weaknesses (just look at their second-quarter performance) but they repeatedly are able to find ways to battle back into games and pick up gritty, hard-fought wins. That was undoubtedly the case again tonight as the Lakers once again went into halftime looking up from an early hole.
A strong third and fourth quarter would once again put them in position for a win and LeBron, in particular, was masterful down the stretch to carry the Lakers.
Lakers vs. Spurs Score/Result
Lakers Win, 114-104
The Good From the Lakers’ Win Over the Spurs
Another night, another excellent performance from LeBron. Fully embracing his new point guard role and dicing up defenses on a nightly basis, James hardly looks like a superstar in his 17th NBA season. Despite not picking up his usual allotment of rebounds, James recorded another double-double while taking over as the primary scoring option for the Lakers. James’ long ball was falling tonight, enabling him to open up his full arsenal of tricks which proved to be simply too much for the Spurs to handle down the stretch.
Essentially functioning as a one-man wrecking crew in the fourth quarter, James would finish the game with 33 points, three rebounds, 14 assists, and a block.
After his slow start to the season, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has started to come into his own over the past few weeks. Inserted into the starting lineup in place of the injured Avery Bradley, Caldwell-Pope made the most out of his new opportunity and played second-fiddle to LeBron while Anthony Davis struggled from the field. Finishing with 14 points, on 5-7 shooting (including a 3-5 showing from deep), Caldwell-Pope was exactly what the Lakers needed to help overcome a deep and well-coached Spurs team.
First Quarter Defense
The Lakers have struggled mightily to start games, especially on the defensive end. However, they came out strong against the Spurs and despite promptly giving up the lead in the second quarter, held the spurs to just 22 points in the first frame. After a number of showings where they gave up 30+ points in the first quarter, it was nice to see the Lakers finally not stumble so hard out of the gate.
The Bad From the Lakers’ Win Over the Spurs
Anthony Davis (Kind of again but not really)
Once again, Anthony Davis had a terrible night from the field – buoyed by some late-game stat-padding – but was able to salvage his game with strong contributions elsewhere. The Laker offense will struggle most nights that Davis goes only 7-19 from the field but the fact that he chipped in 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals, and two blocks keeps him from falling under the “ugly” category. Davis has been inconsistent offensively over the past few weeks and one can’t help but think back to his lingering shoulder injury and wonder just how serious it may actually be.
The Second Quarter
As solid as the Lakers came out in the first quarter, the second quarter was the exact opposite. Struggling to keep pace with the Spurs while giving up buckets at will, the Lakers squandered their early lead and were outscored 34-29. The Lakers had a tough time running opposing shooters off the three-point line, especially in the second quarter. Bryn Forbes and Patty Mills, in particular, torched the Lakers and were a major part of the Spurs opening up a lead in the second quarter.
Though the Lakers would seem to iron out the kinks and step up their defense throughout the rest of the game, the continued defensive lapses are starting to become a worrisome issue.
The Ugly From the Lakers’ Win Over the Spurs
As incredible as Dwight has been off the bench to start the season, tonight he undoubtedly dropped a stinker. Finishing with 0 points, one rebound, one steal, and five fouls, Howard was supremely ineffective and struggled on an individual level. While he somehow posted a net rating of 0 in his 18 minutes, Howard was not himself tonight. Expect things to be better moving forward as this was most likely an anomaly but tonight was flat out ugly.