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San Antonio at Los Angeles, Final Score: Lakers take care of Spurs 114-106

The Spurs can’t overcome Anthony Davis and the Lakers

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images

Anthony Davis used his length to take advantage of the Spurs on both ends of the court, scoring 27 points in the first half, and dominated the game. In the second half, the Spurs double teamed and varied defenses on Davis, and they were able to keep the score within reach by only allowing him to score 7 points after halftime.

Keldon Johnson had his best game shooting three-point shots, and the hot shooting form him and Devin Vassell helped make the game interesting in the final minutes as the Spurs pulled to within a basket with three minutes left, but the inability to close out games and quarters once again cost the Spurs a win, as the Lakers outscored the good guys 9-3 the rest of the way to win 114-106. The Spurs seem like they have the talent to pull off a win in this kind of game, but the discipline and organization isn’t there yet to make it happen. They have 69 more game to figure it out this season.

Observations

  • I kind of hate these early games. It feels way too early in the day to watch a basketball game.
  • I think Russell Westbrook plays better when LeBron is out. He doesn’t have to defer to another ball-dominant offensive player and can free lance more.
  • Doug McDermott on Anthony Davis is a bad defensive matchup. Keldon Johnson on him might be worse. The Spurs finally decided to use more than one player on him in the second half, and that helped, but it opened up other scorers for the Lakers.
  • Thaddeus Young is playing terrific. It would be terrible if his minutes were reduced when Jakob Poeltl returns to the lineup.
  • Missed free throws have been a real problem lately, and it’s costing this team.
  • Calling a 24 second violation that breaks up a fast break is an abomination against the esthetics of basketball.
  • The Spurs used to be good at finishing quarters, but their lack of ability to execute in the halfcourt makes it problematic for them this year. Their halfcourt sets almost always end up in a poor shot and a turnover and that’s poison for finishing out periods.
  • Drew Eubanks beating Dwight Howard on a jump ball was pretty cool, even if the Spurs couldn’t turn it into points.
  • If Keldon Johnson keeps hitting three-point shots, he’s going to become almost unstoppable, because that’s going to make it so much harder to defend his drives to the basket if you have to close on him outside the arc.
  • I’m worried about Derrick White’s game. Too often holds the ball and just dribbles into the defense and ends up taking a shot that’s blocked or turns over the ball. He needs another move, or to pass the ball out to his teammates. He can’t keep dribbling the ball into a dead end, he’s become too predictable.
  • It’s confusing with the Spurs broadcasters calling the game from the AT&T Center (inside a temporary studio in the parking lot), when they refer to ‘here’ they mean San Antonio. It just always throws me.

Game Flow

The Lakers took advantage of their height advantage early, with Anthony Davis getting anything he wanted, and using a Spurs defensive lapse to bounce the ball off the backboard to himself for an early score, scoring 19 points in the first. The Spurs relied on a more balanced attack, with 6 different players scoring in the quarter, but the Lakers led 34-29 after one quarter.

The Spurs started the second quarter on one of their patented cold streaks, as the Lakers lead swelled as the Spurs turned over the ball and couldn’t hit shots. The Spurs righted the ship somewhat with Keldon Johnson getting hot from outside, but they still had no answer to Davis, as he got to every rebound and dominated inside, except for the last couple of minutes when they used defense to go on an 11-2 run to finish the quarter and reduce the Lakers lead to 5 points, 60-55.

The Lakers are supposed to be a bad third quarter team, but they looked good coming out of the locker room, extending their lead to double digits with Westbrook doing the early damage. With Talen Horton-Tucker grabbing Eubanks under the bucket, and then taunting him, for some reason leading to a tech on Drew, you have to respect the Spurs toughness, but it wasn’t rewarded on the scoreboard, as a four point play from Carmelo once again put the lead over 10. The Spurs tried a combination of zone defense and double and triple teams on Davis to slow him down, and it worked holding him to 2 points in the quarter, but it also freed up other players, as Wayne Ellington got free and hit a pair of triples to maintain the Laker lead. 90-79 after 36 minutes of game play.

The Spurs used the three-point shot to work their way back into the game in the final quarter with Devin Vassell getting hot beyond the arc. Malik Monk did his part for the Purple and Gold, making the tough points early to keep the Spurs from catching up. But the Spurs held on, and their pressure defense and clutch shooting finally started to break through as they closed the score to 105-103 with just under three minutes to go. Unfortunately, a quick 7-0 run from the Lakers had the Spurs down by 9 with a minute left, and the Spurs were unable to make up the deficit and lost 114-106.


What’s Next . . .

The Spurs record is now 4-9, and they’ll be staying in LA until Tuesday for another game in Staples Center, this time against the other tenant of the arena, the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers started slowly this season, but since then they’ve won 7 in a row, and this will be a tough matchup for the Silver and Black, especially since Jakob might need a few more games before he can return to the lineup.