LeBron-less Lakers Show Grit in Overtime Win

In their first road game of the new season, the Los Angeles Lakers withstood a lineup without LeBron James and defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 125-121 in overtime.

Following a collision with Desmond Bane in Sunday’s game against Memphis, James missed Tuesday’s contest with an ankle injury. Through the first three games, James has averaged 26 points, 6.3 rebound and 5.3 assists. Despite not suiting up, the King played a role from the bench, coaching his teammates during timeouts.

Malik Monk got the start in place of James and did not squander the opportunity, finishing with 17 points in 39 minutes. The team was +31 with Monk on the court (highest of any Lakers player this season).

Anthony Davis recorded his third double-double of the season with 35 points and 17 rebounds and Russell Westbrook added 33 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists for his third double-double in four games thus far. Deandre Jordan brought down 9 rebounds (8+ in a second straight game) and Austin Reaves played in a career-high 30 minutes and scored 10 points off the bench.

Westbrook commented postgame that the key victory was the team sticking together and executing the game plan.

 “One thing coach always emphasizes to us is togetherness,” Westbrook said. “When [the Spurs] made a run, we stuck together. We locked in on our defensive principles, got some stops and made a run of our own and it made the ballgame.”

 The two teams stayed even throughout the first half but San Antonio outscored Los Angeles 35-24 in the third quarter and closed the last 3:38 on an 18-3 run, taking a game-high, 12-point lead into the fourth.

 The start of the quarter seemed bleak, but the Lakers wouldn’t fold, going on a 14-3 run to tie the score at 104 with about five minutes left in the ballgame.

 Frank Vogel commended his team on their response to being down double digits and their play on both sides of the ball, specifically around the rim.

 “We just got more determined on a defensive end,” Vogel said. “I thought Dwight had some really great possessions, impacted plays at the rim, and getting some deflections and obviously, Russ was, I think huge during that stretch attacking the rim. He and AD both just had monster nights and we never lost belief, even when we were down, that we were going to win the game. We persevered and got a huge road win.”

With under a minute to go, Monk hit a long, three-pointer to give the Lakers a two-point lead and after two missed free throws from Jakob Poeltl, the Spurs grabbed the offensive rebound and tied the game on a Keita Bates-Diop layup.

A misplay on the Lakers final possession of regulation and a missed Dejounte Murray shot on the other end pushed the game into overtime.

In overtime, L.A. scored the first five points and a Westbrook hammer dunk seemed to have shifted all momentum to the Lakers side. San Antonio responded with three straight shots on three consecutive possessions and tied the game at 121 with a minute and a half left.

Davis and Westbrook would hit clutch layups in the final minute and the Spurs would miss their final two shots, ending the game.

 The Lakers outscored the Spurs in the paint 72-64, the first time they outscored their opponent this season.

The game may have been played at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, but Lakers Nation was out in full force and the players took notice.

“It was like a home game,” Monk said. “I’ve never seen nothing like it before besides playing us when I was in Charlotte. It’s a crazy feeling. It makes us more comfortable, and everybody relaxed like we were at home. We definitely felt that.”

The Lakers will play on back-to-back nights when they visit Oklahoma City on Wednesday.