After a humiliating blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Staples Center on Friday — a defeat that led Anthony Davis to rip his team in postgame comments — the Lakers entered their Sunday afternoon contest against the San Antonio Spurs with a sense of urgency. L.A. still struggled to put the Spurs away, but prevailed for their first regulation win in over a week, beating San Antonio 114-106 to move to 8-6 on the season.
Davis — who started at center — led the way with a dominant performance in the first half with 27 points, which marks a new season-high for a Laker in a single half. Davis finished with 34 points on 14-24 shooting along with 15 rebounds and 6 assists as his play backed up the edge he showed after Friday’s loss. Though he did not get as many opportunities in the second half, as the Spurs often sent a double team his way, Davis still helped facilitate the offense and the attention he drew helped guys like Malik Monk and Wayne Ellington spring open of three-pointers.
Monk and Ellington both provided a major scoring spark off the bench. Ellington had the exact type of game the Lakers envisioned when bringing him back, finishing 5-8 from the field with all five on his makes coming from three-point range to finish with a season-high 15 points. Monk, meanwhile, finished 6-10 from the field and 2-3 from three-point range with 16 points, including some nice contested finishes at the rim in the second half.
Frank Vogel finally shook up the starting lineup by replacing Kent Bazemore, DeAndre Jordan and the injured LeBron James with Avery Bradley, Carmelo Anthony and Talen Horton-Tucker, the latter of whom made his season debut after being sidelined with a thumb injury. The 20-year-old made an immediate impact on both ends of the floor, as some of his typical acrobatic finishes around the rim came when the Spurs had narrowed the lead to a single possession late in the fourth quarter, and his defense helped keep San Antonio ever so slightly off balance when he was on the court. He finished 7-14 from the field with 17 points and a +12, the highest plus-minus among L.A.’s starters.
Early foul trouble prevented Carmelo Anthony from getting a ton of touches on Sunday, but he looked good on the attempts he did have, finishing 5-7 from the field and 2-3 from three-point land — including a dagger on an outlet pass from Davis late in the fourth — to record 15 points in his first start as a Laker.
Neither Bazemore nor Jordan even set foot on the court during Sunday’s game, meaning that every member of the Lakers’ opening night starting lineup who isn’t part of the big three received a DNP-CD in their 14th game of the season. We’ll see if this is a trend or an experiment when the Lakers take on Alex Caruso and the Chicago Bulls on Monday in the second end of this back-to-back.