The Spurs improved to 28-14 on the season on Monday night with a 107-100 win, which was an important victory to get the Spurs out of a recent rut. The Spurs have split three wins and three losses across their last six games, as they move through a stretch that features four of their next five on the road.
That stretch begins on Thursday night at the Staples Center, as they take on a young Lakers team that has been under enhanced scrutiny of late over their uneven play. Lonzo Ball seems to be gaining some confidence lately, but this team runs through the offense of their other rookie, Kyle Kuzma, who has been phenomenal this season.
Can the Spurs avoid the road letdown?
San Antonio Spurs (28-14) at Los Angeles Lakers (13-27)
January 11, 2018 | 9:30 PM CT
Watch: TNT, Listen: WOAI
Spurs injuries: Danny Green (groin), Tony Parker (ankle), Rudy Gay (heel), Kawhi Leonard (shoulder)
Lakers injuries: None
Controlling Kyle Kuzma
Kyle Kuzma has been fantastic offensively in his rookie season for the Lakers. The 6’9” rookie out of Utah leads the Lakers in scoring, as he is averaging 16.9 points per game on 46.4% shooting from the floor. The offense has been run primarily through both him and Brandon Ingram, leading to a dynamic tandem in the frontcourt that has been tough to handle when they have been at their best.
The Spurs will be shorthanded on the perimeter defensively on Thursday with both Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay out due to injury. As such, the onus will be on the younger guys like Kyle Anderson and Davis Bertans to hold their own against Kuzma and limit his scoring opportunities.
Finding Offense with a Shorthanded Lineup
Ahead of the match-up on Thursday night, the Spurs have already ruled out Kawhi Leonard and Rudy Gay, while listing Tony Parker as doubtful and Danny Green as questionable due to various injuries. If all four of those players sit out, the Spurs will be without 44.6 of their 101.6 points per game.
With about half of the offense missing, it means more opportunities for leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as Pau Gasol and emerging wing Kyle Anderson, who J.R. and I discussed in our study hall last week. It will be a group effort offensively to make up for the lack of scoring that is missing due to injury, but a strong defensive effort by those who are available could help the offense get out into transition for easy points on the other end.
It will be interesting to see how the Spurs manufacture offense on Thursday night, especially if all four players mentioned off the top end up sitting out of this one on the road.
Vegas Line: Spurs by 4.
Game Prediction: Spurs by 5.
For the Lakers fan’s perspective, visit: Silver Screen and Roll.
As always Tony must dominate Fisher.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.