LIVE: Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs
8:30 PM ET
Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs
AT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
The Lakers remain atop the Western Conference standings with a 14-2 overall record. Los Angeles has riled off a pair of seven-game winning streaks already this season and they come in with a renewed sense of urgency on the defensive end of the floor under Frank Vogel. Can the Lakers push their winning streak to a season-high eight games with a win in San Antonio on Monday night?
LeBron finishes with 0 FT attempts vs. GrizzliesLeBron James scored a game-high 30 points while Anthony Davis chipped in 22 to help the Lakers edge the Memphis Grizzlies in a 109-108 win on Saturday. Rajon Rondo came off the bench with 14 points, six assists, and five rebounds, while Dwight Howard added 10 points and nine boards to help provide a boost with the second-unit. Playing in their second game in as many nights, the Lakers trailed by 10 after the first quarter and by eight at halftime before rallying in the second half.
After the game, LeBron and head coach Frank Vogel both expressed their frustration with how the game was called. James set a career-mark by attempting 27 shots without attempting a single free throw against the Grizzlies and his 5.6 free-throws per game represents the lowest mark of his career. According to Vogel, the Lakers plan on contacting the league about how James has been officiated this season.
Speaking of Memphis, the Grizzlies have been unwilling to let go of veteran swingman Andre Igoudala, who remains highly sought after by contending teams. Igoudala was expected to be cut or bought out by the Grizzlies, who acquired him from Golden State Warriors, but the Grizzlies have informed interested teams that will not be the case. If a contender wants Igoudala’s services, they are going to have to trade for the 35-year-old future Hall of Famer.
The Lakers’ 14-2 start is the best start by a LeBron-led team in his illustrious career. While the start has been impressive, L.A. has benefitted from playing one of the easiest early-season schedules in the NBA. And with upcoming matchups against the Spurs, Washington Wizards, and New Orleans Pelicans, don’t expect the Lakers to stop winning any time soon.
Spurs struggling on defense despite easy scheduleThe Spurs held on for a much-needed 111-104 victory over the New York Knicks on Saturday night to snap a season-long eight-game losing streak, the longest such streak in Gregg Popovich’s tenure with the team. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 23 points while DeMar DeRozan added 21 points and nine rebounds for San Antonio, which shot 12-for-23 from 3-point range to overcome a sloppy 22-turnover performance.
At first glance, San Antonio’s offense looks stuck in a different era of basketball, as the Spurs shoot more mid-range jumpers and fewer 3-pointers than any other team in the NBA. Despite their questionable slot selection, San Antonio still enters the week with the fifth-best offensive rating (110.7) in the NBA.
The problem for the Spurs has come on the defensive end of the floor, where they’ve slipped all the way to 26th in the NBA. San Antonio ranks near the bottom of the league in several defensive categories and they come in sporting a defensive rating of only 113.1. Despite being a top-five offensive team, San Antonio ranks 19th in the NBA in net rating at -2.4.
Even more concerning for the Spurs, their struggles on defense have come against one of the NBA’s easiest early-season schedules. Ten of San Antonio’s first 16 opponents have had losing records so far this season.
The Lakers might have a gripe when it comes to how LeBron has been officiated to this point in the season but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some positive regression for him here. James finished his last game without attempting a free throw and that’s likely not going to be the case here as he tries for his second win in San Antonio this season. The Lakers took down the Spurs 103-96 at the AT&T Center earlier this month. They come into this game healthier and their complementary players have started to become more comfortable in their respective roles. Take the Lakers to cover the number on the road in this Western Conference matchup on Monday.
These two teams are pegged for 223 points, which seems like a lot considering this game is being played in San Antonio. When you think of Gregg Popovich and the Spurs, you think disciplined, hard-nosed defensive teams. But this year’s Spurs’ squad ranks near the bottom of the NBA (26th) in defensive rating. San Antonio has tried to play faster this season and the Lakers aren’t afraid to push the pace. Take this game to go over the projected total on Monday night.