The Los Angeles Lakers looked to end their road trip on a high note on Saturday when they took on the San Antonio Spurs in the second of a back-to-back.
Anthony Davis was dominant in leading the Lakers to a victory over the Spurs on Friday night although he sat out this game due to a left calf contusion. It didn’t matter though as the Lakers were still able to earn the victory, beating the Spurs 143-138 to improve to 7-11 on the season.
Without Davis, the Lakers struggled in the paint defensively early as Jakob Poeltl got a couple of easy buckets on Thomas Bryant, who got his first start of the season for L.A.
Dennis Schroder was also in the starting lineup for the second straight game and got off to a nice start offensively with five straight points to give the Lakers an early 7-6 lead.
After making his first 3 of the night, LeBron James got a little to complacent as he missed his next two shots, both jumpers, allowing the Spurs to get out in transition.
The Spurs built their lead up to eight, playing with a lot of confidence on both ends. The Lakers bench, led by Russell Westbrook, Austin Reaves and Wenyen Gabriel, did a nice job responding with a 9-0 run and L.A. eventually trailed 34-33 after one quarter with Gabriel beating the buzzer with a 3.
San Antonio began the second quarter on a 9-2 run to build their lead back up although the Lakers got back on track with back-to-back 3-pointers by James and Reaves.
The Lakers caught a pair of breaks in the second quarter as two Spurs starters in Poeltl and Jeremy Sochan both injured their quads and would not return. Poeltl was dominating before going down, recording 12 points and nine rebounds (four offensive) in just 10 minutes.
James got going a bit to end the half, making another 3 and then finishing a lob from Westbrook with a highlight dunk in transition. The Lakers went into the halftime locker room leading 70-68 after a half that featured virtually no defense.
The Lakers started off the third quarter on a 7-0 run, beginning to get some separation with Schroder leading the way offensively.
The young and scrappy Spurs fought to stay in it though and Westbrook helped them with a few untimely turnovers in the third quarter, allowing more fastbreak opportunities.
L.A. went on another run to close the quarter though after tempers flared momentarily. Westbrook was hit on the head by Zach Collins and as blood poured down his face, he chased after the Spurs center. After the dust settled, Westbrook was given a technical for his response while Collins was given a Flagrant 2 and ejected. That put San Antonio down its top two centers for the rest of the night and the Lakers built a 106-97 lead going into the fourth quarter.
James has struggled from 3 so far this season but he got it going from deep in this one as he made back-to-back triples early in the fourth and then finished a layup in transition to extend the lead to 16.
The Spurs answered back with an 8-0 run out of a timeout though so the game was not out of reach just yet. That forced a Lakers timeout, and then also responded coming out of it as Lonnie Walker IV drilled a pair of 3s and connected on an acrobatic layup.
San Antonio stayed within striking distance by continuing to hit 3s. The only problem was that they could not get enough stops to make a dent in the Lakers’ lead and L.A. went on to earn the victory.
James finished the night with a season-high 39 points to go along with 11 rebounds, knocking down seven of his 12 3-point attempts and all 10 of his free throws.
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