The Los Angeles Lakers beat the San Antonio Spurs on the road Sunday night led by LeBron James who had his second triple-double in a row. In year seventeen, the forward is leading the NBA in assists and showed it off again at The Alamo! Anthony Davis had a hell of a game too, contributing 25 points and 11 rebounds to go with 4 blocks.
Anyway, let’s talk about the game!
An improved first half:
The Lakers only had eleven turnovers in an OT victory against the Dallas Mavericks. After the first quarter, Los Angeles had eight turnovers, giving up eleven points off of them to the Spurs. The Spurs were able to take a 9-0 run into the start of the second quarter. But it was the visiting team that had the 13 point advantage going into the second half. Vogel continued to stagger LeBron and Davis, and that decision led to positive results.
The Lakers’ defense turned it up during the second quarter which led to their advantage at half time. The Spurs scored the 43 points in the first 24 minutes of the game, the least they’ve scored in that timeframe this season. The Spurs were held to 33.3% from the field at the end of the first half. Dwight Howard continued to be a force on the defensive glass (five rebounds). In the last three minutes, Davis finished at the center position, leading to the Lakers going on an 11-4 run to end the half.
Dwight Howard for Sixth Man! (Just kidding….unless….):
Howard continued to make an impact on the court. He was a +3 in nine first-half minutes putting up four points, seven rebounds, and two assists (including this sweet lob to Davis).
He continues to outplay his front-court mate JaVale McGee, playing almost twice the amount of minutes (21 minutes to McGee’s 11). Howard was perfect from the field, 7-7, to go along with 12 rebounds and two blocks (one in crunch time against DeJounte Murray). The resurgence for Howard has been a revelation for the team and contributed to how good the Lakers have been on the defensive end.
His rim protection made a huge difference in crunch time. Howard and Davis completely made the Spurs players miserable trying to attack the rim late in the game.
It begs the question: with how well he’s playing, will he be inserted into the starting lineup in the future? Or will he come off the bench as a spark?
Howard has vastly outplayed expectations so far and D39 is a huge part of why this team is able to win.
Bench Unit problem:
The Lakers entered the game 27th overall in bench scoring, with 28.0 points per game. This was a huge concern going into the game as San Antonio was ranked sixth at 46.6 points per game. Today the Lakers’ bench unit dropped 36 points led by 14 each from Howard and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. This will only get better as Kyle Kuzma returns to form. Who knows, maybe the return of Rajon Rondo can be a good thing for the second unit as well.
The situation will be worth watching to see how the Lakers will respond. It is good that Vogel is keeping one of Davis and James with the second unit, but as the season goes on, having a more productive bench will be imperative to preserving the two stars.