Lakers Vs. Spurs Preview: Anthony Davis Returns; Rui Hachimura Makes Debut
Anthony Davis, Lakers, Spurs
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers face the San Antonio Spurs at home on Wednesday in the second leg of a back-to-back. The Lakers will sweep the season series against the Spurs with a win.

L.A. is coming off an 18-point loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night while San Antonio lost to the Portland Trail Blazers by 20 on Monday night, allowing the Blazers to score 147 points — Portland’s season high. The Lakers likely won’t exceed that point total, but reinforcements return for the matchup.

Anthony Davis will play his first game since Dec. 17 against the Denver Nuggets. He was ruled out indefinitely with a stress injury in his right foot, set to be reevaluated after two weeks of rest. Slowly he took the court in workouts and drills with no significant update until earlier this week.

Darvin Ham said Davis looked phenomenal in a recent practice scrimmage. He was originally expected to return against the Boston Celtics on Saturday. Five and a half weeks later, Davis is back. He will be on a minutes restriction and will come off the bench, but having him out on the court comes at a crucial time in the season with a playoff push incoming.

That push requires all hands on deck, including new ones. Recently acquired forward Rui Hachimura will make his debut in purple and gold. Hachimura went through pregame workouts prior to Tuesday night’s game but sat out the matchup. He will come off the bench but is expected to eventually start.

LeBron James, who was listed as questionable with left ankle soreness, will also be playing. There was speculation he would sit out the second half of the back-to-back, but he is suiting up. Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV are making progress with their injuries but will both miss the Spurs game.

San Antonio is relatively healthy with only Romeo Langford and rookie Devin Vassell out.

Healthy or not though, this season’s Spurs are a far cry from the 2000s dynasty. San Antonio has lost 10 of its last 12 games. They have the worst defensive rating in the NBA and have allowed their opponents to score 122 points per game on 50.9% shooting — both dead last in the league. Teams have scored over 130 points in five of the last six games against them.

Offensively, San Antonio is in the middle of the pack in points per game and field goal percentage. Their 3-point percentage is among the worst in the league at 34.8% a game. Gregg Popovich’s system is still intact with a pass-heavy, get-the-best-shot-possible style. Young players Keldon Johnson and Tre Jones handle most of the scoring for the Spurs.

Johnson has scored at least 20 points in nine of his last 11 games. His career high in points (36) came just last week. Jones has enjoyed a better second half of the season, catching fire in January. He’s scored in double figures in every game this month except two. Jones also had his career high in points (26) last month.

Those are two bright spots in the Spurs’ poor season set for breakouts next year. However, Laker fans can keep an extra eye on Jakob Poeltl, Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson — three names who have been entrenched in Russell Westbrook trade rumors. Those trade talks are reportedly still alive with the deadline coming up in two weeks.

But, if losses pile up for the Lakers, a deadline trade may not be worth it. Ensuring that’s not the case means L.A. has to win games like the one tonight against the tanking Spurs.

Los Angeles Lakers (22-26) vs. San Antonio Spurs (14-33)

7:30 p.m. PT, January 25, 2023
Crypto.Com Arena
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 AM ESPN LA

Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:

PG: Dennis Schroder
SG: Patrick Beverley
SF: Lonnie Walker IV
PF: LeBron James
C: Thomas Bryant

Key Reserves: Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr., Max Christie, Wenyen Gabriel,

Projected Spurs Starting Lineup:

PG: Tre Jones
SG: Malaki Branham
SF: Keldon Johnson
PF: Jeremy Sochan
C: Jakob Poeltl

Key Reserves: Zach Collins, Josh Richardson, Doug McDermott, Stanley Johnson

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