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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers

After splitting games against Utah and New York, the Spurs welcome Kobe's Lakers to San Antonio — one final dress rehearsal before Schedulegeddon begins.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
December 12, 2014, 8:30 p.m. Spurs Time

Wednesday's "skeleton crew" matchup between the Spurs and the Knicks wasn't the most star-studded of affairs. Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith were all absent, leaving household names like Travis Wear, Quincy Acy, Austin Daye and Kyle Anderson to dazzle the AT&T Center crowd for 20+ minutes each.

For the casual fan of either side, it would've been pretty difficult to recognize their respective team, which is probably how Kobe Bryant feels nowadays with his own squad. The NBA's favorite self-described a-hole is the Lakers' omega man, the last survivor on a barren wasteland of an NBA roster that was nuked by, among other things, his own 48.5-megaton contract.

Kobe's second in the league in scoring (25.5 ppg) and  just like a cheap set of speakers or Dog the Bounty Hunter's mullet  he's doing it with volume: 22.4 FG attempts per game (easily tops in the NBA) and terribly low percentages (39 percent from the field, 27.6 percent from three).

You can't really blame him, though. If anyone were playing as the Lakers in NBA 2K (and I don't know why anyone willingly would), they'd likely be using Kobe twice as much, running him ragged like a Tom Thibodeau fever dream. Whether in real life or in video games, you have a team whose collective talent doesn't match up to the expectations of its franchise player or fan base, but that doesn't mean they can't steal the occasional game.

On Tuesday, the Lakers defeated the Boogie-less Kings 98-95. It wasn't the kind of game that harkened the days of C-Webb and Shaq, but there's something special about Kobe leading his team to wins in these crepuscular days of his career  special because they don't come very often, and special because they do seem to still mean something to him.

Kobe hung up 32 points in that game, with Carlos Boozer chipping in 15 and 11 off the bench. Boozer was claimed over the summer after being amnestied by Chicago and has produced respectably for the Lakers second unit. The signing was seen as a bit of a punchline at the time, as people laughed about how bad things had gotten in LA.

You would feel bad if Boozer wasn't already familiar with cheap shots himself:

Even if Pop plays his B team again  and who's to say he won't  San Antonio's rote execution should be enough to keep the Lakers from winning two straight, as long as they can dodge Boozer's right-hand undercut.

LA is dead last in points allowed at 110 per game. Part of that is due to them playing at a faster pace than most teams (second in FGA per game), but they're also terrible at defending the three-point line, and simply don't have the size inside to win the paint.

Tiago Splitter returned to action on Wednesday, and should expect a similarly light load (10-15 minutes) tonight too, as he's eased back into things. That'll mean more minutes for Aron Baynes and Boris Diaw, who will try to limit Boozer and keep Jordan Hill and Ed Davis from off the offensive glass.

The Lakers can run and spread the floor with the rest of the pieces that have been plugged into this lineup. Guys like Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson and Nick Young are capable of putting up 20 points on any given night, and it'll take that kind of contribution from an ancillary piece for LA to stay competitive in this game. If not, this game shouldn't be close.

Matchup to watch: Kobe Bryant versus everything. Danny Green. Kawhi Leonard. The shot clock. The NBA record books. Nick Young's Twitter account. The guy selling Bud Light in the H-E-B Fan Zone. Your uncle who served in 'Nam. He'll take all of them on.


Los Angeles Lakers (6-16)

San Antonio Spurs (16-6)

December 12, 2014

AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas

8:30 p.m. CST


Radio: WOAI 1200AM


Ronnie Price


Cory Joseph

Kobe Bryant


Danny Green

Wesley Johnson


Kawhi Leonard

Ed Davis


Matt Bonner

Jordan Hill


Tim Duncan

Game prediction: Spurs by 12.

For the Lakers' perspective, visit Silver Screen and Roll.

As always, Tony must dominate Fisher, and you can get your San Antonio Spurs tickets from Daniel Farias with Spurs Sports & Entertainment: Tel: 210-444-5607 |