The (9-35) Los Angeles Lakers host the white-hot (37-6) San Antonio Spurs tonight at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. In the first place, tonight’s game, the 10 year anniversary of Kobe Bryant giving the NBA; his magnum opus, his masterstroke, his piece de resistance one of his crowning achievements, his exemplary performance scoring 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors.
We can all reminisce about Kobe Bryant dropping the second highest scoring game in NBA history, but a few things somehow end up being lost in translation, the game was far from a blowout. Furthermore, the fact that the Lakers were being manhandled by the Raptors down 63-49 at halftime, ‘the black mamba” had 26 at halftime.In their game against Sacramento the Lakers were competitive in the first half down 57-52 at halftime, outscored 55-41 in the second half. Moreover, in the second half the inevitable took place as L.A. proved that they could not slow the combination of Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (36 points & 16 rebounds) and point guard Rajon Rondo (11 points & 17 assists) from leading Sacramento to a 112-93 win and sending the Lakers to a four game losing skid.
Equally important, L.A. allowed Sacramento to score 58 points in the paint, secure 59 rebounds, dish-out 28 assists, reject 12 attempted shots and record six steals.The loss provided some positives; the Lakers had five players score in double-digits (Brandon Bass 18, Kobe Bryant 15, Lou Williams 15, D’Angelo Russell 14 and Jordan Clarkson 14), Brandon Bass led the L.A. in scoring with a season-high 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Despite a competitive first quarter, L.A. led by eight points (27-19), the purple and gold later gave up a 12 consecutive points to end the quarter down by four points. The Spurs held the L.A. to a season-low 16 point fourth quarter, leading to the Lakers losing the Spurs 109-87, 42 days ago, on 12/12/15 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
Fast forward to today, the Spurs have gone from 18-5 to 37-6, from 19th in the NBA in scoring (99.9 points per game) to 6th (104.2 points per game), in addition to 6th in the league in rebounding (45.4 rebounds per game), 3rd in assists (25.2 assists per game) coupled with remaining the league’s top defensive team holding team’s to 89.6 points per game.
The Spurs have won 14 of 17 over the Lakers, which includes the opening-road sweep of the 2013 NBA Playoffs as well as the past five road matchups. This is a back-to-back game for the Spurs after beating the Suns 117-89 on Thursday, riding a 12-game winning streak, are the league’s only team that’s 7-0 in the second of back to back games and outscoring their opponents by 15.7 points.
Although the Spurs were without the services of two of their best players ( Tony Parker, sore right hip and Tim Duncan, rest), San Antonio got 66 points from their reserves and won by 28. The fact remains that the four most compelling games of the this season are the ones between the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors.
The Lakers loss to the Kings, their eighth in nine games, outscored by an average of 20.3 points. Additionally in their four game losing skid, the purple and gold outshot on average 49-percent to 39.8-percent. The numbers you need to know: 54,49, 44, 43, 26 and 14.
The purple and gold allowed the Spurs to shoot 53.7-percent from the field, secure 49 rebounds, score 44 points in the paint, shoot 42.9-percent from behind the three-point arc, dish-out 26 assists and post 14 fast break points. In order to avoid a repeat performance, the Lakers need to do a solid job of moving, passing and cutting to find the open man. Los Angeles must trust their offense and execute, keep the ball and the defense moving, improving their spacing on the floor, constantly screening their opponents and playing faster.
Despite San Antonio Head Coach Gregg Popovich’s disdain for the three-point shot, which is well-documented, although the Spurs rank second in the league at 38.1-percent trailing only the Golden State Warriors. The Lakers defense in a word, problematic, needs to get back in transition, stop the dribble penetration of Tony Parker, attempt to slow the impact of Kawhi Leonard, communicate on defense, do a solid job defending the pick-and-roll play, challenge every shot, quickly rotate out to open shooters, box their men out and rebound.
Lakers: D. Russell, J. Clarkson, K. Bryant, J. Randle, R. Hibbert
Spurs: T. Parker, D. Green, K. Leonard, L. Aldridge, T. Duncan
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
• Los Angeles: TWC Sportsnet (Bill MacDonald & Stu Lantz)
• San Antonio: FOX Sports Southwest (Bill Land & Sean Elliott)
• Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
• San Antonio : WCCO 830 (Bill Schoeing)
• Kobe Bryant (Sore Right Shoulder, Sore right Achilles) Probable
• Larry Nance Jr. (Sore Right Knee) Out
• Brandon Bass (Sore Right Foot) Probable
• Tony Parker ( Sore Right Hip) Day-to-Day
• Tim Duncan (Rest) Day-to-Day