The Los Angeles Lakers won’t be getting the brooms out tonight. After winning their first two games against the San Antonio Spurs, the Lakers fell to the Gregg Popovich’s side 118-109 at Staples Center. This is the first time since Dec. 7, 2018 that the Lakers have lost to the Spurs, and they will finish their season series against San Antonio 2-1 as a result.
Offensively, the Lakers were fine despite a few key players going cold from the field. As a team, they shot 49.4%, and 31.0% from 3-point range. Going into tonight’s game, they were shooting 48.9% and 39.2% from those distances, respectively. Instead, where the Lakers really got themselves into trouble was the defensive end, and the starters were the root of the problem.
Similar to their game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, the Lakers got more from their bench than they did their starting lineup. Yes, LeBron James and Anthony Davis combined for 50 points on an efficient 19-32 shooting, but they both finished as negatives in the box score because of their performances on the defensive end. Davis especially left a lot to be desired, as he played a part in letting LaMarcus Aldridge go off for 28 points. Aldridge hit some tough shots, but it’s nothing Davis hasn’t seen before.
James and Davis weren’t alone in their struggles, though. None of the Lakers’ starters finished as a positive in the box score. Kyle Kuzma, who once again started in place of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope posted a team-low plus-minus of -21. Dennis Schröder wasn’t too far behind Kuzma, posting a plus-minus of -18. Kuzma and Schröder shot a combined 9-27 from the field.
It’s no secret the bench has been a bright spot for the Lakers this season, but when the starters aren’t performing — particularly on the defensive end — it’s hard for their contributions to mean anything. The starting group needs to be better, plain and simple.
The Lakers will have a chance to bounce back soon, as they take on the Chicago Bulls tomorrow. Tip-off will be at 7:00 p.m. PT.