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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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Spurs play second game of road back-to-back and first of home and home.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

In their second series of road back-to-backs, the Spurs face the Lakers on Wednesday night at the Staples Center. Winners of 11 of their last 15 games, LeBron James and Company are rested, having last played at home on Sunday night, defeating the Suns 120-96. Keeping with the back-to-back theme, the Lakers and Spurs complete their four game season series in San Antonio on Friday night.

In October, the Spurs defeated the Lakers in LA 143-142 in OT and 110-106 in the AT&T Center. Since however, the teams’ fortunes have shifted with the Spurs drifting into the 12th spot in the West and the Lakers climbing up to the 5th.

San Antonio Spurs (11-13) @ Los Angeles Lakers (14-9)

December 5, 2018| 9:30 PM CT

Watch: ESPN | Listen: WOAI

Spurs injuries: Dejounte Murray (knee), Pau Gasol (foot)

Lakers injuries: Alex Caruso (ankle) GTD, Rajon Rondo (hand)

THE LAKERS

The Lebron era Lakers started with an October record of 3-5. They’re now 14-9. What’s changed?

Defense

Foremost, since the Lakers signed Tyson Chandler on November 6, the Lakers have “defended at a rate better than every team other than the Oklahoma City Thunder.” Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of Chandler’s arrival has been second-year power forward Kyle Kuzma, who no longer faces the challenge of playing small-ball center, instead focusing his efforts on defending perimeter players.

Team Chemistry

Since the first few games, LeBron’s arrival has not appeared to disrupt the Laker’s team chemistry as some pundits predicted. Recent reporting shows a cohesive team of veterans and youth that’s focused on winning. However, rumors continue to swirl of in-season trades calculated to clear cap space for, or to acquire a top five player such as Anthony Davis.

Lineup

The current starting lineup of Lebron James, JaVale McGee, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, and Kyle Kuzma has produced a record of 12-5. James leads the Lakers with 27.8 ppg followed by Kuzma and Ingram at 16.6 and 15.7.

THE SPURS

The Spurs play the Lakers the evening following Tuesday’s 139-105 rout by the Jazz in Salt Lake City and on the heels of Sunday’s 131-118 defeat of Portland in San Antonio.

Back to Back Games

The Lakers game is the Spurs second road back-to-back of the season and fourth overall. As evidenced by the chart below, San Antonio has not fared well in the second half of any back-to-back games so far this season.

Three Pointers

As noted below, neither the Spurs nor the Lakers sit near the top of teams that shoot the most threes. While the Lakers attempt about 5 more per game, the Spurs strong shooting percentage cuts that advantage to under one trey per game.

THE GAME

The fact that the game is a road back-to-back with an immediate rematch in San Antonio, will probably be more important than X’s and O’s. With his starters resting late during Tuesday’s blowout loss, it’s likely that Pop won’t rest any of his stars tonight, but you can’t count on anything this year.


Vegas prediction: Lakers by 7.5

Game prediction: Lakers by 15

For a Lakers fan’s perspective, visit Silver Screen & Roll

PtR’s Gamethread will be up this afternoon for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.