The San Antonio Spurs (45-33) conspired to lose yet another road game last night in un-Spurs-like fashion. After jumping out to a big lead against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Spurs were outscored 41-27 in the fourth quarter as they went down, 113-110. It was the Spurs’ sixth road loss in a row and their tenth in the last 11 away from AT&T Center. The one bright side was LaMarcus Aldridge, who had another terrific game with 35 points and nine rebounds.
The Spurs will remain in LA tonight as they take on the struggling Lakers (33-44), who are themselves coming off a 117-110 loss last night to the Utah Jazz. It was the Lakers’ third loss in a row and their eighth in the last ten games. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope popped up with a team-high 28 points as he went 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, while Kyle Kuzma added 26 points and six boards. Julius Randle just missed a triple-double as he finished with 12 points, 12 boards, and nine assists.
Three keys to the game
Home-court advantage - At this point, there has to be something to the Spurs absolutely sucking on the road. It’s gone on for too long a time to disregard. Those continued struggles could now be creeping into their heads, and after such a demoralizing loss to the Clippers, the Lakers may just catch the Spurs a bit vulnerable on the second night of a back-to-back.
Spurs supporting cast - The Spurs can’t really ask much more of Aldridge, who has been consistently outstanding for basically the entire season. However, they need a lot more from other Spurs players like Dejounte Murray and Pau Gasol to step up and carry some of the offensive load. Gasol had a vintage game with 19 points, ten rebounds, and eight assists against the Lakers last month with Aldridge out. That’s the type of production they need from him again to snap their road hoodoo.
Lakers guard play - With Isaiah Thomas out and Lonzo Ball still not ready to return, the Lakers are pretty shallow at the guard positions at the moment. That’s not good, since Ball and Thomas combined for 39 points and 18 assists in their win over the Spurs last month. The likes of Alex Caruso and Josh Hart will need to come up with the goods against San Antonio for the Lakers to be successful.
Matchup to watch
Danny Green vs Kyle Kuzma - After a lean couple of months, Kuzma looks like he’s back to his very best. The rookie is averaging 21.0 points and 8.4 rebounds over the last ten games and has exploded for 26 or more points in two of his last three games. Green will have a tough task slowing the talented rookie down on that end of the floor.
Spurs projected starting lineup
PG - Dejounte Murray | SG - Patty Mills | SF - Danny Green | PF - Kyle Anderson | C - LaMarcus Aldridge
Lakers projected starting lineup
PG - Alex Caruso | SG - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope | SF - Kyle Kuzma | PF - Julius Randle | C - Brook Lopez
It’s been very hard to trust any other Spur besides Aldridge fantasy-wise lately. But with Ball out, Dejounte Murray will have an advantageous matchup against the likes of Alex Caruso and Tyler Ennis. Murray has averaged 13 points, nine rebounds, and three steals in two games against the Lakers this season, which could see a nice uptick tonight.
As for the Lakers, Randle has been a highly reliable fantasy player for two straight months now. He’s basically been a walking double-double, putting up close to 20 points and ten rebounds with great consistency. He didn’t have a double-double against the Spurs last month, but he still had 25 points and six boards. He had just three assists, but that could also rise with his chances to touch the ball without Ball and Thomas.
As awful as the Spurs have been on the road, they just have to beat this Lakers team. The guards LA are trotting out there should not be good enough to beat the Spurs. With their playoff lives still not completely safe, look for Pop to opt against resting anybody on the second night of a back-to-back and instead go all out for the win.
The Spurs finally pick up a much-needed road win as they bring down the Lakers at Staples, 102-95.
This game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. Tip-off is at 10:30 pm Eastern.