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San Antonio vs. Los Angeles Final Score: Spurs bust franchise losing streak against the Lakers, 129-115

The Spurs rode Devin Vassell’s career night to their first win in 43 days.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Finally, finally, finally, the nightmare has come to an end as the Spurs busted their franchise-record 18-game losing streak with a blowout win over the LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. They built what would prove to be an insurmountable 25-point lead early in the second quarter, and although they nearly gave it all back before halftime, they held on before doing and something they’ve struggled with all season: come out of the locker room focused and ready to protect their lead, cruising through the second half for the 129-115 win.

Devin Vassell led the way with a career high 36 points (his first ever 30-point game!) while hitting 5-10 from three, while six other Spurs scored in double figures. Three Lakers scored 20 or more points, led by 23 from LeBron James.

Observations

  • Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell sat out this game, but James returned and made sure to give Victor Webanyama his own “Welcome to the NBA” moment early by stripping his dribble as he did a spin move and sprinting down the court for a highlight real dunk.
  • Vassell rediscovered his shooting form, putting up 11 points in the first quarter and hitting timely shots throughout the night. That helped kickstart the Spurs offense as a whole, as they moved the ball, attacked the rim, and made their threes. Overall, they had 13 assists on 16 field goals, hit six threes and scored 14 points in the paint against a zone defense to get out to a 42-22 lead, making that their second-straight quarter of scoring 40 or more points, going back to the fourth quarter against the Lakers on Wednesday.
  • Of course, good things never last with this team, and they promptly forgot both how to attack a zone defense and defend, as James went into attack mode, started forcing double teams and finding the Lakers’ shooters on open looks (which they made). I guess it can be considered a plus when the Spurs, who currently have the worst offensive net rating in the league, can look “bad” on offense and still score 27 points, but they also can’t give up 40 at the same time. Fortunately, that ended up being the Spurs’ stinky quarter of the game. They avoided the classic third quarter meltdown and slowly rebuilt their lead to double digits before cruising through fourth quarter for the win.
  • With Tre Jones out sick, we finally got to see Devonte’ Graham play some backup point guard minutes in the first half and garbage time. It was nothing special — he missed his only two shots but recorded 3 assists in 10 minutes — but it also wasn’t bad. Graham is more than capable of logging some minutes if Pop ever decides to start Tre Jones.
  • A wise approach by Lakers Coach Darvin Ham was to substitute LeBron out a little early, then bring him back in when Cedi Osman and Doug McDermott were on the court. The Spurs’ two best outside shooters got their points, combining for 21 points on 5-7 shooting from three, but they also couldn’t guard one of the GOATs, and that’s when he did most of his damage in this game.
  • I appreciate that Wemby seems to be reining in the three-point chucking in the last few games, instead saving them for transition or within the flow of the offense. He only took two threes tonight, hitting one, but more importantly he recognized that Vassell was the hot hand and instead picked his spots on offense, recording 13 points and 15 rebounds while breaking Dwight Howard’s record for most consecutive double-doubles for a teenager.
  • Here’s a crazy stat that you probably never would have guessed: with a made three in the first half, Malaki Branham became just the second Spur to hit 100 or more threes in his first 90 career games, behind Gary Neal’s 139 (hat tip: Jordan Howenstine). That is somewhat surprising considering Branham is not really know for his three-point shooting, but it’s also a reminder that a lot of the Spurs younger players under Pop either came before the three-pointer became so popular or just didn’t get the minutes to accomplish that feat. Branham continued his hot play as a starter, recording 12 points on 5-8 shooting.

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

The Spurs return to the Frost Bank Center for a matinee game against the New Orleans Pelicans. Tip-off will be at 2:30 PM CT on Bally Sports.