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San Antonio vs. Los Angeles, Final Score: Friskier Spurs still can’t down Lakers, lose 143-138

San Antonio received better scoring results from their stars, but were again felled by LeBron James’ dominance and absent depth

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs
In addition to the eighth straight loss, Keldon Johnson’s shot continued to elude him, but he found his buckets in other ways
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Despite recovering to hit a season high in threes, San Antonio suffered its eighth straight loss in its 143-138 loss to Los Angeles. The Spurs staged a more competitive opening act with Devin Vassell pouring in 14 in the first quarter and the team going up by 11 in the second. They also had more 3-point makes by the end of the first half (seven) than they accumulated last night (six). Though nursing a slight deficit at the half, the Spurs could not get closer than within one, and the Lakers pulled away with a 8-0 run late in the third quarter.

LeBron James (39 points and 11 rebounds), a star turn by Denis Schroder (21 points and 6 assists), and 49 points from its bench helped Los Angeles offset its lost production from star center Anthony Davis. James led his teammates in a collective line to the free throw stripe to gain a 18-point advantage in sum.

Keldon Johnson (26 points and 10 rebounds), Tre Jones (23 points and 13 assists), and Devin Vassell (20 points and 4 rebounds) helped San Antonio recover from the early loss of starting bigs Jakob Poeltl and Jeremy Sochan. Seven Spurs scored in double figures in their eighth straight loss.


  • I feel like there should be a Dot Game where the dots race around Loop 1604 unabated without traffic. That would be exciting to watch!
  • Journeyman and college coach Larry Krystkowiak was the former Spur recognized tonight in the third quarter. A fair player comp for Krystkowiak might be Fabricio Oberto.
  • Are people okay with how overly simplified some of the NBA uniforms have become - tonight’s Lakers’ threads, all of Utah’s collection, Sacramento’s Detroit Lions greys, etc.? It seems the league is trying to save on production costs.
  • I wonder where Walker IV’s new pet move (i.e., driving deep into the paint and jump-passing it to a Laker big for an assist) was when he played for the Spurs?
  • Isaiah Roby looked like a young man possessed - vastly different than the tentative version that played on the recent West Coast trip.
  • Sequence of the Game #1: Partway through the opening frame, Sochan intercepted deflection, then found Tre Jones streaking down the right side for a pretty lay-in. Jones then took an outlet pass and streaked downcourt for another lay-up on the next opportunity.
  • Beautiful Game Moment (with asterisk): Later in the first half, the transition awesomeness after a Laker miss would go down as Poeltl to Branham to Sochan to Langford to Poeltl (dunk). ** Poeltl came down lame with what looked like a hyperextended something after the dunk and had to exit the game.
  • Jeremy’s Journey: His catch-and-shoot three in the first quarter was one of the most natural looking editions of his evolving stroke. His dunk attempt in the second quarter... on Zach Collins was regrettable.
  • Poeltl’s Paint Prowess: Jakob executed a nifty up and under a-la Kevin McHale early in the second period.
  • Devin’s Deeds: Channeling my inner Pop, “he shot much better tonight.”
  • Without Davis’ presence on the defensive end, San Antonio’s first seven baskets in opening period came inside the arc. Johnson encouragingly provided the first long-distance make of the night, while Vassell netted an and-1 in transition which caused Michelle Beadle to gush “This is fun!” The League Pass feed turned absolutely psychedelic right around this time - causing me to hope that the game would be called in favor of San Antonio. LA unfortunately mounted a 9-0 run right after this. Wenyen Gabriel intercepted a poor inbounds pass and connected from halfcourt to make it 34-33 Spurs after one.
  • Back-to-back threes by Doug McDermott and Vassell extended the Spurs out up seven. James grabbed Poeltl with both hands and swung the Austrian into the paint and tried to argue the ensuing foul call. Malaki Branham nailed a corner three to put San Antonio up 11, but the Lakers responded with nine quick ones of their own. The Spurs then were down two starters in a matter of minutes, as Poeltl hurt himself after a transition dunk, and Sochan got nicked up on a drive to the basket. Jones answered a late LA run with two makes of his own, but the frenetic pace yielded a Lakers lead 70-68 at the break.
  • Schroder’s three punctuated a 7-0 Lakers run to start the second half. Pretty drives by Romeo Langford and Vassell brought San Antonio within two. The Spurs squandered numerous chances to tie the game. After a Russell Westbrook turnover, a confident Isaiah Roby walked into a spot-up three. Lakers guard Austin Reaves hit two jumpers in the paint, but consecutive layups by Johnson and Jones pulled the Spurs within one. A Reaves and-1 quickly pushed the LA lead back out to seven. Collins fouled Westbrook on a putback late in the stanza, bloodying the guard’s forehead. It was deemed incredibly a Flagrant-2 foul (Rick Mahorn and Bill Laimbeer would have begged to differ) - resulting in Collins’ ejection and a technical foul on Westbrook for his incensed response. After the fracas, the Lakers went into the fourth up nine.
  • James was called for his third offensive foul, but two of his countless free throws put LA back up ten. Johnson got hit on two straight baskets and yet was teed up by Ed Molloy after the first make - no star calls for him just yet. James’ seventh three and transition lay-up gave the Lakers their biggest lead of the game at 16. Consecutive threes by Roby and Langford chopped that deficit in half. Walker IV woke up from deep slumber to score four buckets. Though San Antonio continued to attack the rim relentlessly, LA ran Westbrook-James pick-and-rolls to success. Roby fouled out with minutes to go. Though Johnson hit on two threes, Gabriel converted two old-fashioned and-1s. The scrappy Spurs did make things interesting in the waning moments.

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

San Antonio earns several much-needed practice and rest days before traveling to Oklahoma City to take on the Thunder Wednesday night at 7:00 PM CDT.