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Lakers vs. Spurs Preview: A rematch

The key for the Lakers is to simply play like they did in the first three quarters of last Wednesday’s game against the Spurs.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

The Lakers and Spurs will go at it again after facing each other just last Wednesday, where the purple and gold came out victorious despite collapsing and almost blowing a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter. This will be L.A.’s last game in their current three-game Texas road trip.

Start time and TV schedule

Who: Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs

When: 4:30 p.m. PT, Dec. 15

Where: Frost Bank Center

Watch: ESPN/Spectrum Sportsnet

When it seemed like the Lakers were on the way to nabbing a comfortable victory without LeBron James in San Antonio last Wednesday, the Spurs surprised them late in the fourth quarter by trimming their 20-point lead to one. It would’ve been a disaster of a loss but thanks to Anthony Davis’ clutch performance on both ends of the floor, Los Angeles avoided an embarrassing defeat.

The Lakers’ game plan in the first three quarters seemed to click. They were converting their defense to offense, running in transition, where they produced 21 points, and, most importantly, shooting 54% from the field. The Spurs, meanwhile, shot just 29-72 for the first three quarters as the game felt like it was just Victor Wembanyama vs. the Lakers for the most part.

Then the fourth quarter happened, where San Antonio made 16-24 of their shots (66.7%) while the Lakers went ice cold on offense. What caused the Lakers a near meltdown was that they seemed content exchanging baskets with the Spurs. Their defense simply just disappeared in the fourth quarter.

After the game, a frustrated Darvin Ham admitted that the Lakers were lucky to leave the game with a victory and added that the team needs to use more of its common sense.

L.A. gave up a whopping 45 points in the fourth quarter alone, 14 by Wembanyama, while the rest of the Spurs’ role players combined for 28 points. If not for the win, this would be considered unacceptable, but with the context that the Lakers were on the second night of a back-to-back on the road on a random December night and didn’t have James, that performance can be forgivable. At the end of the day, a win is a win and it all counts the same.

Still, the Lakers need to remember what happened in that fourth quarter ahead of Friday’s rematch against the Spurs. They can possess a comfortable lead for most of the game but it only takes one bad quarter to change the overall result of the match. The possibility of getting James back will certainly help but it won’t be a surprise if we see a more confident San Antonio team next game.

The key for the Lakers remains the same: Let their defense force this Spurs team to take bad shots while they continue to dominate the paint, where the purple and gold scored 62 of their 112 points on Thursday. They did that so well in the first three quarters and if they can just do that from start to finish on Friday, then they should be good. The goal is to continue exposing the Spurs’ lack of talent outside of their lottery pick.

Ultimately, If the Lakers contain Wembanyama — who was limited to just 16 points in three quarters on Wednesday — than there’s a high chance that the Lakers make that two wins in a row in San Antonio. Let’s see if the Lakers can do just that and conclude their short Texas road trip on a successful note.

Notes and Updates:

  • Friday’s rematch against the Spurs will be the Lakers’ ninth road game of the season, where they’re currently 5-8. They’re slowly improving in this regard after starting 0-5 on the road this season.
  • The Lakers are also currently sitting on the fifth seed of the Western Conference and are ranked first in the Pacific Division. This is great considering that they didn’t have their roster intact until this month and have had a tough schedule. They’ve only lost twice in the month of December but have a tough schedule ahead. As always, the goal is to keep stacking up wins, which is why winnable games like the one on Wednesday and this Friday are extremely important.
  • For the injury report, the team lists Gabe Vincent (left knee effusion), Jalen Hood-Schifino (back) and Maxwell Lewis (G-League) as out while Anthony Davis (left adductor/hip spasm) LeBron James (left calf contusion) and Taurean Prince (left knee soreness) are questionable. Jarred Vanderbilt (low back spasm) is probable.
  • As for the Spurs, Charles Bassey (ACL injury), Charles Bediako (G-League), Sidy Cissoko (G-League) and Sir’Jabari Rice (G-League) won’t be in uniform.

You can follow Nicole on Twitter at @nicoleganglani

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