The Los Angeles Lakes look to continue their strong play at home against the San Antonio Spurs tonight. On Tuesday night the Lakers struggled late to put away the New Jersey Nets, but eventually came away with a 125-118 victory. D’Angelo Russell led the way with 32 points and four assists and Julius Randle chipped in a triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists.
The Spurs come into L.A. looking a bit different from years past as Tim Duncan no longer dons the iconic No. 21 jersey. Unsurprisingly, they haven’t missed a beat because of Duncan’s absence; they are averaging 101.2 points per game this season. San Antonio is coming off a 110-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night bringing their season record to 9 wins and 3 losses.
The Lakers continue to be an early surprise this season, boasting a record of seven wins and five losses. One noticeable difference is that this season they have shown the ability to be competitive for a full 48 minutes, which translates well for tonight against one of the top teams in the NBA. This game provides as a good measuring stick of how far this Lakers team has come in the early going of the season.
The backcourt of the Spurs this season has been a little out of sync, as Tony Parker and Danny Green, the usual starters, have missed time. When Parker has played, he hasn’t been as productive as we are accustomed to, averaging 8.0 points and 4.1 assists per game. This may due to a right knee injury suffered in the season-opener or maybe because he’s currently in his 15th season in the NBA and feeling the effects of father-time. During his absence, Patty Mills has filled in admirably, averaging 10.6 points and 3.8 assists per game.
Kyle Anderson has started mostly in the place of Danny Green, and while he doesn’t score much offensively (2.7 points per game), he plays very smart, committing less than one turnover per game.
The Lakers backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Nick Young has been impressive this season. Russell currently leads the team in scoring, 16.8 points per game, but at times has shown inconsistency which has allowed either Jordan Clarkson or Lou Williams to finish games.
Both Clarkson and Williams have been bright spots for the Lakers this year, serving as offensive weapons off the bench. Their play has been important in all of the Lakers wins this season. If the Lakers want continued success, they need Clarkson and Williams to play the way they have been. Against the Spurs, look for the Lakers to depend largely on their backcourt to provide the energy and scoring needed to come out victorious.
San Antonio has one of the most potent frontcourts the NBA offers, starting Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Pau Gasol. Leonard has been playing at an MVP level this season, averaging 25.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. While he’s been asked to carry more of the scoring load, he’s still able to defend at an elite level that makes him one of the most versatile players in the league. Behind Leonard, Jonathon Simmons has done a good job coming off the bench for the Spurs, averaging 7.1 points per game and playing solid defense.
Aldridge has been his usual self since entering the league, averaging 17.5 points and 7.1 rebounds per game this season. What makes Aldridge hard to defend is his ability to knock down outside jumpers. By him doing so, he’s able to extend the defense, which allows San Antonio’s guards to penetrate and create easy baskets. Although there has been some concern about his fit in San Antonio, Aldridge is still one the top power forwards in the game and has shown the ability to score with the best of them.
Gasol, a familiar face for Laker fans, serves as a suitable piece in the Spurs system. While he’s only averaging 10.5 points per game, he provides high basketball IQ, which is important when playing for the Spurs.
The frontcourt of the Lakers, especially Julius Randle, has played better than expected this season. Randle has been a complete nightmare for opposing teams, often using his versatility to dribble past defenders or use his power to score down on the block. Timofey Mozgov has been solid patrolling the paint for the Lakers. His defense and his ability to alter shots is what has the made the Lakers into a better defensive team from the last few years.
Luol Deng has largely been disappointing this season. He is currently averaging 6.4 points per game, shooting a woeful 31.3 percent from the field. When he signed during the offseason, he was expected to bring consistency at the small forward position to allow rookie Brandon Ingram get accustomed to the NBA, but has instead lacked the offensive punch he’s provided throughout his career. Ingram, Larry Nance Jr., and Tarik Black have done a great job of providing energy off the bench and if they want future success, they must continue their play.
3 Keys To Victory
As well as the Lakers have played this season; they are committing 16.8 turnovers per game. It has led to easy buckets for opposing teams and against the length of the Spurs, they must do a better job of taking care of the ball.
Push the Pace
The Lakers must take advantage of their youth against the veteran Spurs. By tiring San Antonio out, they can get easier baskets in transition, which will be needed since San Antonio occupies the fourth-best defense in the league.
Play Better Defense
The Lakers defense the past two games has not been solid. Against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon, they let Andrew Wiggins score a career-high 47 points and allowed the Brooklyn Nets to score 118 points on 45.5 percent shooting Tuesday night. The Lakers must play with high defensive intensity to keep the Spurs in check.
Los Angeles Lakers (7-5) Vs. San Antonio Spurs (9-3)
7:30 P.M. PST, November 18, 2016
Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
TV: Spectrum SportsNet
Radio: 710 (ESPN)/1330 KWKW (Spanish)
Projected Spurs Starting Lineup:
PG: Tony Parker
SG: Danny Green
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge
C: Pau Gasol
Key Reserves: Patty Mills, Manu Ginobli, David Lee, Jonathon Simmons, Kyle Anderson
Projected Lakers Starting Lineup:
PG: D’Angelo Russell
SG: Nick Young
SF: Luol Deng
PF: Julius Randle
C: Timofey Mozgov
Key Reserves: Jordan Clarkson, Lou Williams, Brandon Ingram, Tarik Black, Larry Nance Jr.