Recap: Lakers Win First Road Game Of Season As LeBron James Returns Against Spurs
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Persistent third-quarter woes have been the bane of the Los Angeles Lakers 2022-23 season, and Friday night in San Antonio was no different. It came around just like Groundhog Day.

Entering the contest, Los Angeles had not won a road game all season. BET365 had the Lakers as three-point road favorites, which moved to five points late when the team announced that LeBron James would be playing. The moneyline to begin the game had Los Angeles at -155 and San Antonio at +130.

In his first game back after missing five games following a strained left adductor, James hit a 16-foot jumper 17 seconds in for the game’s first points, helping the Lakers build a 20-point halftime lead.

Like clockwork, that lead evaporated to four to end the third. Its first road win of the season hanging in the balance, Los Angeles’ once flying offense in the first half was marred by turnovers — 22 for the entire game, tying their season high. A 13-5 run in the first five minutes of the fourth allowed the team to regain control en route to a 105-94 victory.

Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 25 points and 15 rebounds. LeBron James added 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists in his first game since November 9th. Lonnie Walker IV, who signed with the Lakers in the off-season, had 18 points in his return to San Antonio.

A slow start to the game for San Antonio was long forgotten in the third quarter.

The Spurs’ 34 points in the third comfortably exceeded their point total in the first and second. San Antonio started with four straight baskets but missed six of its next seven. However, it didn’t last long as the Spurs closed the final eight-and-a-half minutes of the third on a 22-9 run. The Lakers, meanwhile, went scoreless in the final 3:43 of the third quarter.

They turned around in the fourth, locking in defensively to hold the Spurs to 19 points in the final quarter. The slow offensive third quarter didn’t carry, too, as the team shot 50% in the fourth compared to 35% in the third.

The Lakers came out of the gates with a quick 9-2 lead. James scored the first points of the game with a mid-range jumper. However, he showed some rust with three early turnovers — six in the first half.

Los Angeles flexed its muscles behind an active defense that forced seven Spurs turnovers in the first quarter, hurting any level of comfort on offense. San Antonio had two field goals in the final five minutes of the quarter. During that same span, the Lakers pushed their lead to 12 at the end of one.

After a solid first-quarter offensive, the Lakers’ offense did stall a bit in the second. They went without a field goal for almost three minutes midway through the quarter. But the Lakers found their way to end the half, closing with a 20-point lead.

Luckily for them, San Antonio could not find any rhythm offensively early on, never cutting the Laker’s lead to less than four in the first half.

San Antonio shot 36.4% from the field and 13% from deep in the first half. The Spurs had just one field goal in the final five-and-a-half minutes of the half, scoring only five points across that same period.

On the other hand, the Lakers shot much better from deep compared to Tuesday’s game. After a Walker 3-pointer late in the second, Los Angeles already had more threes (6) than they had in the entire game against Phoenix.

Los Angeles will once again face San Antonio on Saturday at 5 p.m.

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