The Los Angeles Lakers will be in search of their first road win of the year and hope to have LeBron James back to help Friday when they square off against the struggling Spurs in the first of back-to-back games between the teams in San Antonio.
The teams played in Los Angeles on Sunday with the Lakers cruising to a 123-92 win despite playing without James. James traveled with the team for its three-game Thanksgiving road trip and is expected to play in at least one of the two-games-in-two-nights set in San Antonio.
Los Angeles’ most recent outing was a 115-105 loss at Phoenix on Tuesday that snapped its season-best three-game winning streak. Anthony Davis led the way for the Lakers in the loss, scoring 37 points and grabbing a season-high 21 rebounds.
Davis is the first player in NBA history to score at least 35 points, 20 rebounds, five blocks and five steals since the league started recording blocks and steals.
He also became just the third Laker to score 30 or more points and grab 15 or more rebounds in four consecutive games, joining Elgin Baylor and Shaquille O’Neal.
Lonnie Walker IV scored 24 points, Russell Westbrook added 21 and Austin Reaves hit for 11 points for the Lakers. James did not play because of a lingering adductor injury. Los Angeles has dropped all six of their road games.
Los Angeles has played better as reserves Dennis Schroder and Thomas Bryant have finally seen the court after missing the start of the season. Lakers coach Darvin Ham expects his team to be even stronger when James, who hasn’t played since Nov. 9, returns.
“It’s going to be great as we continue to get people back fully healthy and become whole,” Ham said. “I’m sure we’ll figure it out. We’re just constantly just looking at it game after game after game, just leaning towards solidifying something at some point.”
The Spurs have spiraled down the West standings by losing six straight, including a 129-110 blowout at home to New Orleans on Wednesday. San Antonio missed it first eight shots and was down 9-0 before it scored a point, trailed by 10 after one period and by 19 at the half before mustering some fight in the second half.
It was the 11th loss for the Spurs in their past 12 games. Things are so bad in San Antonio right now that coach Gregg Popovich resorted to praising his team for playing New Orleans even after halftime.
“The third quarter and half the fourth quarter we played pretty good D (defense),” Popovich explained. “In that period of time we got outscored by six (points). So the physicality of both offense and defense playing with purpose and not just walking around. It took all that time to get them to the point to get them where they competed the way they needed to to win in the NBA.”
Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 26 points, with Doug McDermott adding 21, Jeremy Sochan scoring 12 and Keita Bates-Diop hitting for 10. Jakob Poeltl pulled down a game-high 14 rebounds for the Spurs. Keldon Johnson, who had been San Antonio’s leading scorer, had a season-low five points on 2-of-9 shooting.