The loss itself was brutal, but it hurt even more because just a few days before that game, the Lakers had lost to the Spurs 143-142 in overtime. Even in spite of all the injuries the Spurs have suffered this season, the Lakers just haven’t had an answer for San Antonio, and DeMar DeRozan has been a huge reason for that.
Yes, LaMarcus Aldridge has given the Lakers all sorts of problems in the post this season, but it’s DeRozan who has been the most dominant against L.A. In his last two games against the Lakers, the Compton, CA native has scored 62 total points while shooting 48.1 percent from the field. Only two of his 25 made baskets were of the 3-point variety.
Never change, DeMar.
The Spurs haven’t looked very Spurs-y as of late, losing 6 of their last 10 games, but DeRozan has been a consistent 20-point per game scorer for San Antonio. The Lakers can’t afford to let DeRozan get to his spots at will again. Brandon Ingram, who was suspended for both the Lakers’ games against the Spurs this season, will have his hands full, but luckily his hands (and arms) are big enough for the challenge.
As previously mentioned, Aldridge has also been a headache for the Lakers in the last two games, but they might be able to deal with him this time around.
When the Lakers last saw the Spurs, rookie Johnathan Williams was tasked with guarding Aldridge — one of the league’s most talented post scorers — in just his fourth game of his NBA career. To Williams’ credit, he didn’t do a terrible job, but they’ll be in much better shape with Tyson Chandler backing up JaVale McGee on Thursday.
Beyond the one-two punch of DeRozan and Aldridge, the Lakers don’t have much to worry about. While the Spurs are just two games under .500, their numbers as a team suggest that they’re actually much worse.
Through 24 games this season, the Spurs are posting the league’s second-to-worst defensive rating (113.3). Only the 5-18 Cleveland Cavaliers are playing worse defense than the Spurs. A lot can change over the summer.
The Spurs are also allowing opponents to shoot a league-worst 48.6 percent from the field. Don’t be surprised if the Lakers, the No. 15 ranked offense in the league, look like the Harlem Globetrotters on Thursday.
The Lakers will take on the Spurs at 7:30 p.m. PST on ESPN. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.