The Los Angeles Lakers defense once again failed them as they open their season with a three-game losing streak. They lost to the San Antonio Spurs, 143-142 in one of the most soul-crushing losses you’ll see this early in the season.
After San Antonio came out almost literally on actual fire, the Lakers were able to get a few things together in the second quarter and from that point forward, the game was a back-and-forth affair (with the Spurs spending more time in front, to be clear).
LeBron James played maybe the worst first half of basketball he’s ever played but was significantly more active in the second. His shooting has still left a lot to be desired (especially from three, at least until the game was on the line) but the way he floated in the first half was something that we really haven’t seen much of over the course of his career.
Still, he put it together in the second and was able to hit an insane three to send the game into overtime, but he then missed two consecutive free-throws with a chance to give the Lakers 3-point lead, after which Patty Mills came down and hit what would be the game-winning jumper for the Spurs.
James finished with 32 points, 14 assists and 8 rebounds, but he’s going to want those back.
Kyle Kuzma looked exponentially better and more comfortable playing in his more natural position (power forward). By moving into the starting lineup, he spent more time there and was able to get into a rhythm that he was able to maintain for the entirety of the game. He finished with 37 points on 15-25 shooting and 4-10 from three.
One game isn’t enough to warrant any kind of permanent change when the player likely to be taken out of the starting lineup is Brandon Ingram, but Luke Walton will have to find ways to get Kuzma more time at the four spot.
Next, boy it’s getting hard to watch Ivica Zubac. Yes, he was asked to guard LaMarcus Aldridge (a tough task for just about anyone), but at no point did he look like he had any kind of chance at doing this at all. He played as many total minutes (five) as fouls he picked up in that time. Travis Knight would be proud.
After Zubac’s five minutes, Jonathan Williams was forced into action and he might legitimately have earned himself a spot on the everyday roster. He was everywhere on both ends of the court, spurring runs that got the Lakers back into the game and then helped them come back, finishing with 8 points and 4 rebounds on 4-5 shooting in 14 minutes.
Lonzo Ball was kind of meh (technical term) in his first game as starter while Rajon Rondo is suspended. This was to be expected given how little time he’s spent with the starters this year, so hopefully that improves over the next game or two. One thing he’ll have to get better at is not passing up on open looks. That has to stop as soon as possible.
The Lakers take on the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix on Wednesday.