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Spurs snap historic losing streak with blowout win over Lakers

The Lakers could not make it two wins in as many games against the Spurs as San Antonio snapped their 18-game losing streak on Friday.

Los Angeles Lakers v San Antonio Spurs Photos by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Down three starters and shorthanded yet again this season, the Lakers were undone by a slow start against the very Spurs they beat two days prior as the hosts snapped their 18-game losing streak with a 129-115 victory.

LeBron James did all he could to try to will the Lakers to victory on the night, finishing with 23 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds. Moved to the starting lineup on the night, Austin Reaves had 22 points, going 4-10 from the 3-point line along with seven rebounds and four assists.

Pregame, the Lakers ruled out Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell and Cam Reddish. Paired with injuries to Jalen Hood-Schifino and Gabe Vincent and with Maxwell Lewis with South Bay in the G League, the Lakers had eight non-two-way players available.

The first quarter, a weakness turned strength for the Lakers this season, became a weakness once more. The visitors fell behind by 20 points in the opening frame and were forced into playing catch-up the rest of the game.

A number of runs from the Lakers saw them pull within single digits in response, but they were never able to get over the hump. Rui Hachimura was one of the few bright spots off the bench, scoring 20 points, five rebounds and four assists, padding his stats a bit in garbage time.

No longer interested in having a losing streak, the Spurs flew out of the gate on Friday and stormed out to a big lead. A bevy of 3-pointers and baskets in the paint put the Lakers in a big hole early. Down their three starters, the Lakers couldn’t create as easily offensively and the few times they did, they struggled to convert.

Even if it felt like the purple and gold were creating open looks — which they were — and missing them, the big deficit would be hard to overcome even for a full-strength Lakers team. And on Friday, they were far from that.

By the end of the first quarter, the Spurs were shooting 16-25 from the field, 6-11 from the 3-point line and also had seven second-chance points. Between the fourth quarter on Friday and the first quarter on Monday, San Antonio scored 87 points over the previous two periods against the Lakers.

Missed opportunities and missed shots continued to plague the Lakers offensively, making the uphill battle even more difficult. Defensively, Darvin Ham attempted a zone defense on a handful of occasions that failed to do much to deter the hosts either.

LeBron continued creating open looks offensively, setting up the likes of Rui Hachimur and Jaxson Hayes at the rim, with only the latter converting. A kick-out pass to a Reaves 3-pointer and a Hayes free throw continued a growing run as the Lakers inched closer.

The run peaked at 14-2 following a LeBron free throw, but the Spurs quickly undid most of that work with a layup and an and-one to push the margin right back to 18 points. Back-to-back 3-pointers from LeBron and Prince again pulled them back into it.

Behind LeBron, who continued to take shots to the head in the second quarter, the Lakers got the deficit down to nine points after consecutive assists to Taurean Prince, the latter of which coming on a 3-pointer.

LeBron buried a corner 3-pointer over Victor Wembanayama and set up Christian Wood for a layup to pull the Lakers with four points. The Spurs did respond with an and-one to close the half, but the Lakers went into the locker room down just seven points.

The Lakers initially scored to open the second half and pull within five but the Spurs again started strong themselves and the margin was back in double digits at 15 after a Wemby 3-pointer. Amidst the run, Jaxson Hayes picked up his fifth foul as well.

The Suns kept the Lakers at that arm’s length for the remainder of the quarter, answering each run with one of their own. The Lakers would get back within eight points after an 8-0 run that featured a pair of Reaves threes and a Wood dunk right after the Spurs opened up one of their biggest leads in multiple quarters.

Eventually, though, the Spurs would take an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter after all the runs. With very little left in the tank, the Lakers didn’t have much of a run left in them and the lead ballooned back to nearly 20 points.

As much as they may have run out of gas, the effort was also suboptimal throughout the night, particularly defensively where the Spurs largely got what they wanted. After falling behind by 17 with just over five minutes remaining, the Lakers waved the white flag and pulled LeBron from the game.

Key Takeaways

[fart noise]

Even losses that have valid reasons for them still stink. Especially ones to the Spurs. It was always going to be tough to win on the night as beating a team in consecutive games is not easy, so spotting the Spurs a 20-point lead was a pretty bold strategy.

The effort was rather poor most of the night as well. If not for LeBron seemingly willing this team back into the game in the second quarter, it would have certainly been an uglier result.

The Lakers have a backup center problem, namely in that they don’t have one. Wood may have started the year fine but he has struggled something fierce in recent weeks. And Jaxson Hayes is increasingly proving he is not the answer.

Ending this road trip 1-2 given their performances in the first two games and the opponents is a tough pill to swallow.

You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.

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