LeBron leads Lakers to second straight win against Spurs

After going 0-6 on the road, Lakers won two straight games against the Spurs in San Antonio and have won five of six.

As you can see in the box score, it was a defensive struggle. The Lakers came out on top, 143-138. Okay, you got me. Of course, it wasn’t a defensive struggle. And if you like buckets, this was the game to watch. It’s the highest scoring game in this NBA season with 281 total points.

Anthony Davis was a late scratch from this game. So the Lakers had to find a way to score. Can’t say they didn’t have trouble finding the offense.

But the Spurs, unlike their first two games against the Lakers, were finally putting it in the hole. San Antonio has been atrocious in the first quarter all season with the worst net rating (that’s offensive rating minus defensive rating) and in the bottom five in scoring (along with the Lakers, of course!). But the Spurs made good in transition (they did all game, really) and scored 34 points in the first. The Lakers, namely Wenyen Gabriel, kept it close with a steal and a horn-beating three to end the first.

While both teams rained threes, Jakob Poeltl seemed to dominate the first half inside. He went for 12 points and 9 rebounds and we weren’t even halfway through the second. But Poeltl tweaked something after his last dunk; it was ruled a right quad soreness and he was out for the rest of the game. Jeremy Sochan was also ruled out with a right quad contusion after halftime. It was a break for the Lakers but just awful for the Spurs.

The Spurs led by 11 in the second quarter before the Lakers went on a 15-3 run. And then before halftime, we got this little gem from Russell Westbrook and LeBron James.

“IT’S A DOUBLE DUNK.” And if you know the NBA Jam series, you know what I’m talking about.

Too much one-on-one happened early in the third despite LeBron James and Dennis Schröder waking up offensively. The whole team then scored 8 quick points as the Spurs couldn’t wrest the lead away.

Then Westbrook and Zach Collins got into it.

Russell Westbrook bled like he was Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania. Zach Collins got ejected after his foul was deemed a Flagrant 2.

Bron decided to take the torch and set fire all over San Antonio. He made three after three on the way to 12 points in the first three and half minutes of the fourth. San Antonio countered with an 8-0 run before former Spur Lonnie Walker IV settled it down by scoring the next 10 Laker points. Trading baskets wasn’t going to get it done and the Lakers came away with their 5th win in 6 games.

No Davis meant LeBron had to do the work. He scored 39 points (7/12 from three, .583) and grabbed 11 boards. He wasn’t alone, though. Dennis Schröder scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half. Lonnie Walker IV got off to a slow start but he put in 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter. Austin Reaves was his usual efficient self with 16. Wenyen Gabriel helped hold off a late rally; he had 15 points. And a bloodied Westbrook came off the bench with 11-8-6.

The Spurs had 7 players in double figs. Keldon Johnson didn’t shoot the ball well but he put in 26 points and got 10 rebounds. Tre Jones scored 23 and Devin Vassell had 20. We mentioned Jakob Poeltl having 12 points and 9 rebounds in 10 minutes. It probably would’ve been a different tone if he didn’t get hurt but as much as I hate to say it, injuries are part of the game. And I wish they weren’t.

Lakers still turned the ball over quite a bit with 17 giveaways; they really need to clean that up. With no Davis eating the glass, the Spurs had 8 more rebounds than the Lakers. Both teams shot well but the Lakers shot exceptional at .580 (Spurs were at .505). L.A.’s aggressiveness also got them 17 more foul shots.

The Spurs did their best to run the Lakers off the court (39 fast break points to 20 by the Lakers). They even dominated the paint and took advantage of the Lakers not having Anthony Davis on the court (66 points in the paint by the Spurs compared to the Lakers’ 44). But in the end, the Lakers had too much firepower and walked all over the nonexistent Spurs’ defense, which became even rougher when they lost Poeltl, Sochan, and Collins.

So the Lakers are 5-1 in their last 6 games. Yes, it’s a soft schedule but it’s not their fault. Still, they’ll have quite a bit of confidence as they go home to face the Pacers (you guys know Myles Turner, right?!) on Monday and then the Blazers on Wednesday. And then they go on an arduous 6-game road trip in the East. That’ll really test the Lakers.

But for now, the Lakers are 7-11. They’re still 13th in the West but with the conference all bunched up and no clear favorites at the moment, they actually might have a better shot than we thought around three weeks ago. LeBron looked great (especially in the fourth quarter) against the Spurs and Anthony Davis played like the best player in the league the last couple of weeks or so.

I don’t want to say they’re back yet. But I think they’ve earned a “watch out for them” message.

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