You can put lipstick on a pig, but the home of the Los Angeles Lakers (and Clippers too, I guess) will always be the Staples Center to me. Many memorable Western Conference playoff battles were fought between the good guys starring Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker vs. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, and later Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. It felt weird seeing the Spurs play out the Staple Center’s last game (in name only) without the Big Three and Kobe Bryant, while LeBron James is in a purple and gold jersey.
Alas, if a new era of Spurs basketball has not hit you in the face yet, the turnover of corporate sponsorship should be a nice reminder that time moves on.
Thursday night, the Spurs took more than a red stapler as a parting gift on their way out of the Staples Center. They soundly beat the Lakers behind superb games from the trio of Derrick White and the bench mob of Keita Bates-Diop and Lonnie Walker IV. Bates-Diop scored a career-high (and Spurs team season-high) 30 points on a perfect 11 for 11 shooting. An aggressive Lonnie poured in 21 points as the Spurs shot 46% from deep range for the night.
KBD had himself a night, and the Spurs did not waste a drop of his caffeine-infused play. Bates-Diop was everywhere on both ends of the floor and simply looked like Cousin Eddie on a mission to deliver Clark Griswold the perfect Christmas present—only KBD did not try to kidnap anyone’s boss.
If KBD was Cousin Eddie, Lonnie Walker, last night, was Uncle Lewis, delivering the fire whenever he stepped foot on the floor. Just like Uncle Lewis, Walker only had 24 minutes of showtime, but he made the most of his limited screen time.
Dejounte Murray and Derrick White combined for 20 of the Spurs’ 33 assists. Here, Murray dined out on White’s dime:
Perfection.— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 24, 2021
That Derrick dime to DJ was EVERYTHING! pic.twitter.com/SkD2oCNQPo
This Spurs sequence was brought to you by Dejounte Murray stripping the ball away from LeBron James and Keldon Johnson doing his best Captain America impression at the end of Avengers Endgame by taking on four Lakers by himself. In the end, KJ was able to assemble two points on the Lakers defense.
Dougie McBuckets must have watched an endless loop of Julius Erving highlights because this beautiful up-and-under reverse layup would have made Dr. J proud.
Did we mention Keita Bates-Diop was 11 for 11 from the bench and 3 for 3 from deep?! It was KBD’s night and we’re all just living in it. Here Bates-Diop cut and pasted his way through the Lakers’ D for two.
Dejounte Murray was definitely not a Scrooge and gave the backboard a nice kiss with the basketball for a quick two. Always the giver, Murray also had 13 assists to facilitate the Spurs offense.
Derrick White took this shot all the way from the North Pole. White also shot well from deep, nailing 4 out of 6 three-pointers.
In the future, when GIFs can be made into tattoos, I would like this play tattooed on my forehead as well. New year, new Lonnie does not have to wait till 2022.
Tattoo this play on my forehead pic.twitter.com/8L9OjOeZfT— Pounding the Rock (@poundingtherock) December 24, 2021
If you missed last night’s game, here are the full-game highlights:
Happy Holidays, Pounders! Hope you all have a wonderful and safe “winter solstice” (it’s 80 degrees here in SATX). The Spurs are in good hands with these young elves and Christmas feels a bit sweeter sharing their energy and growth with fellow fans.
Next up, the Spurs head home to take on the Detroit Lions on Sunday, December 26, 2021.