After giving up an eight point fourth quarter lead against the Los Angeles Lakers just two nights prior, the San Antonio Spurs turned the tables on the Lakers. A dominating 44-21 fourth quarter by the Spurs obliterated a 12 point fourth quarter deficit, and the Spurs beat the Lakers 133-120. The Spurs win the season series against the Lakers and are now 12-14 on the season, but more importantly, they have made me a believer.
The Spurs offense looked really good in the first quarter, scoring 32 points on 66% from deep and 62% overall. Unfortunately, the defense was once again non-existent, giving up 36 points on the other end. Some of the Lakers’ offense was fueled by five Spurs turnovers, leading to ten Lakers points. After all was said and done, the Spurs found themselves down four. The Spurs were led by DeMar DeRozan’s 10 points, but seven different Spurs scored in the first quarter.
In contrast to the first quarter, the Spurs trailed the entire second quarter. While some sharp shooting from Marco Belinelli - who scored eleven points in his first stint on the court - kept the Spurs close early on, the middle of the second quarter started getting away from the home team. As the Spurs’ offense went cold, the Lakers stayed hot, threatening to blow the game wide open. Even when the Lakers would miss a shot, JaVale McGee would grab the offensive board, leading to multiple extra possessions. With a few minutes to go, the Lakers’ lead had ballooned to fifteen. A multitude of DeRozan free throws and a rare four point play where Jakob Poeltl was fouled in the paint while Rudy Gay was hitting a three-pointer fueled an 11-0 run from the Spurs and cut the Lakers’ lead to four.
Even though the Spurs gave up a depressing 72 points in the first half, they found themselves down by only four. LeBron James was almost unguardable, scoring 24 points. Kyle Kuzma was also hot, scoring 17 points on 11 shots.
The third quarter had the feel of the calm before the storm, with both offenses cooling off significantly and the Lakers maintaining a 2-6 point buffer throughout the majority of the quarter. DeRozan continued bullying his way into the paint time and time again, ending the third quarter with 25 points. With the game close late in the quarter, the Spurs got sloppy with the ball, leading to a couple live ball turnovers. This helped fuel an 8-2 Lakers run to end the quarter with LeBron on the bench. The Spurs ended up losing the quarter despite the Lakers going 1-10 from deep, and the Spurs found themselves down 92-82 heading into the final frame.
Saying the third quarter was the calm before the storm was putting it mildly. Jakob Poeltl had his coming out party, pick-and-rolling his way all over the Lakers’ defense. Davis Bertans exploded for thirteen points. DeRozan continued getting whatever shot he wanted, finishing with 35 points on 20 shots. Aldridge spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench. It was a surreal fourth quarter, but showed how potent the Spurs offense can be when it’s firing on all cylinders.
- A Spurs-Lakers best-of-seven series would be pretty incredible. Now we just need to find a way to make it happen.
- DeRozan’s aggressiveness was the main reason the Spurs were able to stay within shouting distance in the first half, as he went 9-12 from the free throw line. His ability to get to the line with such frequency allowed him to score 17 first half points on only seven shots. He ended up getting to the line 18 times in the game, making 14 of those attempts. I love watching DeRozan attack the paint and get to the line as opposed to settling for long jumpers.
- The Spurs offensive transition game is not executing at a high level. The Spurs have a Points Per Possession (PPP) of 1.025 in transition scoring, which is 27th in the NBA. Their transition game never seems fluid, and they are constantly settling for less-than-ideal shots, no matter their advantage running the floor. I know they aren’t the most athletic team in the NBA, but they are too indecisive in the open court.
- Poeltl has officially been unleashed. The Spurs are starting to use him in the pick-and-roll more often, and it’s really starting to add a new layer to the offense. Poeltl was very successful in the pick-and-roll with the Toronto Raptors, so it’s good to see the Spurs starting to utilize Poeltl’s most effective skill. He sets great screens, runs hard to the rim, and is a graceful finisher. His rim-protection was also strong tonight, and his play really seemed to energize the crowd (and his teammates).
- Bertans is a stone cold killer. #FreeBertans
The Spurs stay in San Antonio for a matchup against the Utah Jazz on Sunday. If it feels as though the Spurs have been playing the same two teams over and over again, it’s because they have. The Spurs witnessed the awakening of the Jazz back in Utah on Tuesday, losing a nail-biter 105-139. The Jazz are finally at full strength health-wise, and it’s starting to have a positive effect on their results. They have won two straight; the first was the aforementioned blowout against the Spurs, and the last was a blowout win against the Houston Rockets. Let’s hope the Spurs’ revenge tour continues on Sunday. It’s an early start, 6:00 PM CT, and will be on FSSW.