(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers vs. Spurs: 3 Things to Know (1/10/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers’ first meeting with the San Antonio Spurs this season.
1) The Lakers are getting out and running
The common thread in back-to-back wins for the Lakers has been explosive play in transition.
In Sunday’s victory over Atlanta, they tied their franchise record* with 42 fast-break points. Two days later they piled up 35 more while beating Sacramento.
Predictably, Lonzo Ball has been at the heart of this, as the Lakers have molded much of their identity around the rookie’s talent for creating and finishing plays in transition.
He shot just 2-of-8 toward five points against the Kings, but did just about everything else with 11 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals.
Though he didn’t shoot well, Ball provided plenty of highlights by firing outlet passes, hunting offensive rebounds and even mixing in a fake jumper that was really an alley-oop lob.
Can't get enough of this play by Lonzo.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) January 10, 2018
• First he beats two Kings for the offensive board.
• Then he pulls up from mid-range, but it's a diversion.
• He had already spotted Ingram cutting before he left the 3-point arc, & feeds B.I. the oop.
: https://t.co/BiEOiM4aXK pic.twitter.com/rcxDCkgmJg
*Note: Fast-break points have been tracked since 1996-97.
2) The Randle/Lopez frontcourt is off to a strong start
Before the season began, President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson raved about how free agent Brook Lopez’s shooting would be the key to the Lakers’ offense, particularly because of how it opened up driving lanes for the likes of Julius Randle.
But with Randle spending most of the season coming off the bench (and thriving) as the Lakers’ second-unit center, the pairing hadn’t spent much time on the floor together.
Or at least that was until Randle and Lopez started the last three games alongside one another.
In just 84 minutes of playing time together this season, the Lakers have outscored their opponents by 36 with Randle and Lopez on the floor together — the best mark for any pairing on the team.
The duo was at its best against the Kings, as Randle scored a game-high 22 points with 14 rebounds. Lopez, meanwhile, caught fire from deep, hitting five 3-pointers on his way to 18 points.
Randle also had six assists, half of which went to Lopez, who was able to find his groove off his fellow big’s playmaking.
3) No Kawhi, but the Spurs are still scary
Leave it to the Spurs to remain a dominant team even with their MVP-caliber star injured.
Even with two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard on the mend, San Antonio is still one of the NBA’s most suffocating teams, ranking second in defensive efficiency (101.6 points per 100 possessions).
On the other side of the ball, LaMarcus Aldridge has been an absolute fireball, having scored 30-plus points in back-to-back games.
The third-year Spur is playing his best ball in silver and black, ranking second in the entire league in post-up scoring (8.3) this year.
Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and co. will have a tough task containing this steady scorer, who has shot a sizzling 11-of-17 on his patented fadeaway jumper over the last four games.
Spurs: Kawhi Leonard (left shoulder strain) and Rudy Gay (right heel bursitis) are out. Tony Parker (sprained right ankle) is doubtful. Danny Green (tightness, left groin) is questionable.
Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m. PT
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Location: STAPLES Center — Los Angeles, California