The Los Angeles Lakers got back on track in their first road game of the 2020-21 season by defeating the San Antonio Spurs in the first of consecutive meetings.
The Lakers were able to exploit a smaller Spurs front line to the tune of 46 points in the paint. They were also hot from distance, draining an impressive 14-of-26 their attempts with Wesley Matthews hitting all six of his attempts.
Los Angeles was in control of the game throughout the night as they carved up the San Antonio defense, and they seemingly took all the momentum after Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was ejected from the game after arguing a call.
Becky Hammon took over for him, marking the first time in NBA history that a woman served as head coach for a game.
“Well deserved,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said. “I’ve talked to her a bunch at coaches conferences and whatnot. She really knows her stuff. Obviously she’s here for a reason, she’s equipped, she’s intelligent, the guys have great respect for her.
“I think she’s going to be a head coach in this league some day. I think most of our coaching community feels the same way. Kudos to her for getting that first opportunity.”
Hammon has served as assistant on the Spurs staff since the 2014-15 season and is well-regarded around the league for her basketball IQ and ability to relate and communicate to players. Her playing career also speaks for itself as she was a six-time WNBA All-Star and made four All-WNBA teams, and had her jersey retired by the San Antonio Stars.
“She’s been putting in the work, and any time you’re putting in the work, you’re rewarded with opportunities,” LeBron James said. “Obviously she’s been paying her dues over the last few years, Coach Pop has given her an opportunity to be the coach of the Summer League team and then being a head coach if anything were to happen to Pop.
“She got to step in, show her worth, show her talent and love for the game. Obviously what she did as a player, we all know that. Her mind was able to transfer over to our league and she’s been great ever since she got in. It’s a beautiful thing to hear her barking out calls, barking out sets. She’s very passionate about the game. Congrats to her and congrats for our league.”
It was a sight to see Hammon roaming the sidelines on along the San Antonio bench and did a good job of making sure her team remained competitive throughout the night. The Spurs were able to actually make it a single-digit game late in the fourth quarter, but the Lakers were able to rally at the end and hold onto comfortably win the game.
With the way the NBA has continued to evolve and become more inclusive, it is only a matter of time before Hammon or another woman is given a shot to coach full time.
Lakers defense will a work in progress
While the Lakers were able to come away with the win, they gave up far too many points in the paint (46). Marc Gasol is an excellent defender, but is not the same rim protector that JaVale McGee or Dwight Howard are.
Also, Los Angeles was too soft along the perimeter and allowed San Antonio’s guards to get into the lane and collapse the defense. Vogel is confident the team can be as effective as last year, but it remains to be seen whether or not that will be the case.
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