The Los Angeles Lakers continue their homestand, hosting the San Antonio Spurs on an early Sunday afternoon.
L.A. is coming off yet another bitter loss that followed an all-too-familiar script. After two encouraging wins, Los Angeles gave up a large lead and collapsed on both ends of the floor having run out of steam and patience in the middle of Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Lakers have made it a habit to lose their momentum immediately after half-time. In the third period, they own the second-worst defense and rank among the teams scoring the least points (25 per night, 24th in the NBA) this year.
The concerning pattern emerged against the Timberwolves again.
L.A. gave up 40 points and answered with just 12 themselves in the clash’s third-quarter — quickly squandering their five-point lead and failing to regain it ever again.
On Sunday, LeBron James, Kendrick Nunn, Trevor Ariza, and Austin Reaves won’t be able to help the Lakers fix the mystery third-quarter issue as they remain sidelined with injuries. On the flipside, Talen Horton-Tucker makes his season debut for L.A.
Head coach Frank Vogel counted on Horton-Tucker’s development as a capable stop-maker after the coaching staff challenged the Iowa State alum to improve on the defensive end in the preseason.
Vogel must have seen enough progress in the young guard’s defense as the 20-year-old jumps right into the starting lineup despite spending the last three weeks on the sidelines.
Perhaps his athleticism and juvenile energy can breathe new life into the Lakers when their focus and effort start to wane.
The Lakers are starting with a small-ball unit, meaning they will have to stay vigilant against the Spurs who score the most points in the paint this season. They showed off their strength in the protected area the last time they faced Los Angeles.
The Lakers won 125-121 after overtime on Oct. 26 but allowed San Antonio’s center Jakob Poeltl to score a team-high 27 points — also the Austrian’s new career-high. Poeltl will miss the Sunday clash after entering the health and safety protocol, though, and Drew Eubanks will take the big man’s place in the starting lineup.
However, San Antonio fares way worse in their own paint.
The Spurs belong to the teams that collect the fewest rebounds (47.4 per night, 25th in the NBA) and see the most shots blocked (6.1, fourth-most) this year. Meanwhile, the Lakers block the second-most shots (6.3 per night) with Anthony Davis himself registering 2.3 a game, ranking just behind the Indiana Pacers’ Myles Turner.
Carmelo Anthony’s aim could make for another key to a victory.
The 37-year-old forward cooled off from beyond the arc in the last two games, shooting 2-for-13 (15.4%). Beforehand, the 10-time NBA All-Star boasted a 52% 3-point efficiency from downtown and averaged 17.6 points per game.
The Lakers have become dependent on Anthony’s red-hot shooting as they have won only two games when the veteran forward shot 50% or worse from behind the 3-point line.
When he converted more than 50% of his 3s in a night, they have lost only once so far this year.
Perhaps notching his first start of the season will allow Anthony to bounce back from the slump and fire L.A. to yet another victory at home.
Lakers (7-6) vs. Spurs (4-8)
12:30 p.m. PT, Nov. 12, 2021
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: Russell Westbrook
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Talen Horton-Tucker
PF: Carmelo Anthony
C: Anthony Davis
Key Reserves: Wayne Ellington, Kent Bazemore, Rajon Rondo, Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan
Projected Spurs Starting Lineup:
PG: Keldon Johnson
SG: Dejounte Murray
SF: Derrick White
PF: Doug McDermott
C: Drew Eubanks
Key Reserves: Devin Vassell, Lonnie Walker IV, Thaddeus Young, Keita Bates-Diop
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