The Spurs threw away a game in Los Angeles as Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram took advantage of the absence of Tony Parker and Danny Green to dominate the Spurs backups and convert turnovers into points as they pulled away late to win 93-81.
Brook Lopez hit a triple to open the scoring for the Lakers, and both teams had trouble hitting their shots early with only 7 points scored in the first 3 minutes. Bryn Forbes, fresh off having his contract guaranteed, brought the Spurs back to within a point with a jumper and a steal leading to a fast break. The Spurs started to feed the ball to LaMarcus Aldridge late in the quarter and he dominated inside, getting layups and dunks and drawing fouls. But when Aldridge rested late, the Spurs stopped scoring and the Lakers led 20-15 after one quarter.
The Spurs started the second quarter with a turnover fest, and the Purple and Gold quickly jumped out to a double digit lead. After a 17-0 run by the Lakers, Manu Ginobili finally staunched the bleeding with an and-one basket. But the Lakers kept the pressure on as the Spurs ineptness on offense caught up to them, and the Lakers extended the lead to 37-18 halfway through the quarter with Lonzo Ball getting hot from outside. Finally, they realized that they had to get the ball to LaMarcus and they began to claw their way back into the game cutting the lead to 6 on a Pau Gasol three-point shot. The Lakers found their energy late in the quarter and led 49-38 at the break.
Gregg Popovich must have yelled at the squad at the half, because they started the second half with a vengeance, starting with a 9-1 streak led by Dejounte Murray’s drives to cut the Lakers’ lead to 3. The Spurs finally regained the lead on a three point shot by Aldridge halfway through the quarter. The Lakers regained the lead with a triple from Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Spurs turnovers allowed Los Angeles to continue to build their lead. Caldwell-Pope’s four point play gave the Lakers an 11 point lead with just over a minute left in the quarter. Manu scored the last 5 points of the quarter and the Lakers led 68-62 after 36 minutes.
The Lakers scored the first two baskets of the fourth, but Kyle Anderson answered with a slow motion drive to the basket. Derrick White hit the first three pointer of his NBA career, and the Spurs were back into the game. Unfortunately for the good guys, they once again began to give gifts in the form of live ball turnovers to the Lakers, and they took advantage for easy fast break points to lead 81-75 with 5 minutes left in the game. The lead ballooned to 90-75 with 4 minutes left as the Lakers gained confidence on the Spurs turnovers. Finally, Pop threw in the towel with about 2 minutes left and cleared the bench as the Lakers won 93-81.
- The last couple of years, the Eastern Conference provided a pretty easy path to the finals for LeBron’s team. It’s different now with several good teams, including the Raptors who spanked the Cavs tonight.
- The TNT studio crew has really upped their game, with a live band and a lot more energy. That’s entertainment!
- I don’t know why I sign up to recap these West Coast games. I’m too old to stay up this late.
- Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma get all of the press, but I think Brandon Ingram might be the best player on the Lakers.
- The Spurs only scored 38 points in the first half, which seems really low for a professional basketball team. But they scored only 34 points in a half earlier this year against Orlando, so it’s not their worst offensive performance this year.
- Davis Bertans was just about invisible tonight. He only took one shot in the first 3 quarters, which isn’t enough for him.
- Bryn Forbes’ free throw shooting is puzzling. How can such a good shooter be so bad from the line?
- The Spurs were terrible on plays coming off of time outs. They turned over the ball almost every time. It seemed that Luke Walton out-coached Popovich for much of the game.
The Spurs record is now 28-15 with an 10-13 road record, and they’re in third place in the Western Conference standings. The Spurs return to the AT&T Center Saturday night at 7:30 to meet the Denver Nuggets. There’s a special offer for Pounding the Rock readers if you want to go the game.