The Lakers beat the Spurs 105-94 with LeBron James returning back to action after missing five games due to a left abductor strain injury. On his return, LeBron was productive scoring 21 points on 8-17 shooting.
Darvin Ham’s lineup started to become consistent, but with Patrick Beverly’s suspension and the second-best scorer of all time, returning changes were guaranteed. To start the night coach Ham went with Dennis Schröder, Lonnie Walker IV, Troy Brown Jr., LeBron James, and Anthony Davis. This lineup was very close to the one we discussed as being the Lakers best current option, with the only difference being Ham choosing Troy Brown Jr. over Austin Reaves.
To start the game, the Lakers were in complete control. They came out to a 9-2 run with highlight dunks from Anthony Davis and Troy Brown Jr. The San Antonio Spurs came into the game as the worst first-quarter team in the NBA, leading after one just once in the last 12 games. Friday was no exception, as the Lakers led 33-21 after the first.
Lakers up 33-21 after one. Lonnie Walker IV leading all players with 10 points on his return to San Antonio.— Edwin Garcia (@ECreates88) November 26, 2022
With the Lakers firing on all cylinders, the second quarter was more of the same. Los Angeles was able to extend their lead to 18 and the Spurs never made a run to close out the gap. One negative of the first half was LeBron James. He struggled throughout the half, unable to really get going. He looked lackadaisical on defense and just didn’t look as explosive on the offensive side of the ball. Is it just rust from missing five games? Probably, but something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
LAL have pushed their lead to 20 at 59-39, with LeBron's fast break finish coming courtesy of Westbrook's 4th assist.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 26, 2022
LeBron has 9 points on 4 of 8 FG's, with 3 assists and 6 TO's as he shakes off some rust after missing the last 5 games.
On a night when everything was going right, the Lakers’ awful third-quarter performances returned. Midway through the third, the Spurs did make a run to cut the lead down to as low as four. The Lakers tried everything to slow the Spurs down. They went with a small-ball lineup with AD, then went big by adding Wenyen Gabriel and just couldn’t get going offensively. The Spurs ended the third on an 8-0 run and were down by just four going into the fourth.
Good teams find ways to win these games, and bad teams find ways to lose them. On Friday, the Lakers were a good team or at least a good enough team. Ham opted to use the starting five during the key minutes in the fourth and was rewarded with the Lakers protecting their lead and extending it to 12. The Schröder to Davis connection was very effective, leading to multiple trips to the basket for AD. LeBron James finally woke up and had a fastbreak dunk and a transition layup and that was essentially the ball game. The Lakers won 105-94 and avoided going 0-7 on the road to start the season for the first time in franchise history. They are now 6-11 and will face San Antonio again tomorrow at 5:00 pm PDT.