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Game Preview: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers

The Silver and Black are still searching for a way to stop their free-fall in the Western Conference standings.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

The San Antonio Spurs are still looking for their first win in more than two weeks as they play host to the Los Angeles Lakers at the AT&T Center for a second consecutive night. Their Western Conference competitor got the best of them in rounds one and two, though Gregg Popovich and crew are desperate to turn their season around.

As has been the case in practically every game this season, the Silver and Black enter this matchup shorthanded. With that in mind, Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell must bounce back from a collectively ice-cold shooting performance if the good guys hope to keep up with the superstar tandem of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

San Antonio Spurs (6-14) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (6-11)

November 26, 2022 | 7:00 PM CT

Watch: KENS 5 | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)

Spurs: Dominick Barlow (Out — Two-Way), Doug McDermott (Out — Ankle), Josh Richardson (Out — Ankle), Blake Wesley (Out — Knee)

Lakers: Scotty Pippen Jr. (Out — Two-Way), Cole Swider (Out — Two-Way), Patrick Beverley (Out — League Suspension)

What To Watch For

  • Several nagging injuries have kept Anthony Davis out of commission and glued to the sidelines since he took home a championship during his first go-round with Los Angeles. Even when the eight-time All-Star has suited up in consecutive contests over the last couple of seasons, he has looked like a fraction of the franchise player the Lakers sold the farm for in 2019. With those lingering bumps and bruises seemingly in the rearview mirror, Davis has restored his status as a dominant two-way force. The 29-year-old has averaged 26.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals, and 2.2 blocks on a career-high 57% shooting from the field, outlandish numbers that might be worthy of MVP candidacy if the Purple and Gold weren’t hovering near the bottom of the standings. No one has found a way to stop AD, and San Antonio has already watched him punish their smaller lineups twice within the last week. The Spurs could drop to 0-3 against their longtime Western Conference rival if The Brow unleashes another tremendous performance.
  • Keldon Johnson is in the middle of one of the nastiest cold spells of his young career. After flirting with cementing himself as one of the brightest breakout stars of the season, the fourth-year combo forward has tumbled into an unmitigated nosedive. He has averaged 13.0 points and 3.5 boards over his last six appearances, with a ghastly field goal percentage (29.2%) that reads more like a solid batting average. His shooting splits might give major league batters a run for their money, but all those misfired attempts have contributed to the Spurs playing atrocious basketball as they suffer through their longest losing streak since 1997. Johnson only managed 15 points in 35 minutes while going 6-of-23 (26.1%) from the field on Friday night. That was perhaps his biggest dud to date. San Antonio has lost by double-figures in each of their last five games, and they will continue to be easy pickings as long as their go-to scorer struggles.
  • The average basketball fan understandably loves the thrill of crunch time, but most games are decided by how you start, not how you finish. Let me explain. More than 150 teams have won 30 or fewer games since 2000. Of that bunch, only the 2021 Raptors possessed a positive first-quarter point differential. Lottery-bound franchises often put themselves up the creek with sluggish starts, and that trait has been a hallmark of the young Spurs. San Antonio has allowed the second-most points (31.8), scored the fourth-fewest points (26.9), and consequently has the second-worst first-quarter point differential (-5.0) in the league this season. The good guys dug themselves into another double-digit hole when they hosted LeBron and the Lakers on Friday night, and it should come as no shock they fell to 1-13 when trailing after the opening frame. A better beginning tonight could go a long way toward helping them secure their first victory in more than two weeks. Will that happen? Well, we can always keep our fingers crossed.

For the Lakers fans’ perspective, please visit Silver Screen and Roll.

The Game Thread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action on PtR’s Twitter feed.