(Photo By: Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)
Lakers at Spurs: 3 Things to Know (3/3/18)
Here is what you need to know before the Lakers close out their road trip in San Antonio.
1) Offense is on a tear
With a win, the Lakers can sweep their four-game road swing and improve to 5-0 since the All-Star Break.
A huge reason for this success has been the sudden surge by the team’s offense, which is playing its best ball of the season.
During the current win streak, the Lakers have averaged 123 points — second-most in the NBA — while also leading the league in made 3-pointers (15) on the second-best percentage (46).
It has truly been a case of across-the-roster success.
Julius Randle — who had 25 points in his last game — has been bodying guys down low, overpowering opposing power forwards and centers, while also finding open teammates out of post-ups.
Isaiah Thomas is coming off a season-high 29 points, as he dropped six 3-pointers in Miami and used the defense’s attention on him to serve up six assists.
And Lonzo Ball was everywhere for the Lakers in that game, tallying eight points, seven assists, six rebounds and six steals. Ball was so effective pushing the pace for the Lakers that the team scored after every single one of his boards and swipes.
2) Lakers are going to have to get creative on the wing
Another Laker who stood out in the win over the Heat was Brandon Ingram, who will not play in San Antonio due to a left hip flexor strain.
Like many of his teammates, Ingram has been on a roll lately, averaging 18.6 points and 5.5 assists over his last 11 games, while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and hitting exactly half of his 20 3-point attempts.
Ingram’s injury makes the Lakers extremely undermanned at the wing, with Josh Hart (fractured hand) also out and Corey Brewer waived.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the Lakers’ only healthy rotation wing, so expect a lot of three-guard lineups with KCP at small forward.
To make up those other minutes, the Lakers may have to go big and play Kyle Kuzma at SF alongside two centers. Another option is having Luol Deng play for the first time since the season opener.
3) Spurs are hurting too
If any team can relate to the Lakers’ injury woes, it’s San Antonio, which will be without its two superstars in this game.
As expected, Kawhi Leonard is still sidelined by an injury that has cost him most of the season, while LaMarcus Aldridge has been ruled out due to an ankle sprain.
Aldridge has carried the Spurs’ offense during his All-Star season, racking up 22.5 points per game thanks to his elite post play and mid-range shooting.
But San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is the best at what he does, and that’s making players rise to their potential.
Rudy Gay is one of the most efficient iso players in the game, and is always liable to get a bucket. Dejounte Murray and Patty Mills have done a nice job running point. And you always have to be on guard for a throwback performance from Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker.
The shorthanded Spurs may have lost five of their last six games, but it would be irresponsible to underestimate the NBA’s top coach and his second-ranked defense.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (left hip flexor strain), Josh Hart (left hand fourth metacarpal fracture) and Channing Frye (appendectomy) are out.
Spurs: LaMarcus Aldridge (sprained right ankle) and Kawhi Leonard (return from injury management) are out. Pau Gasol (bone bruise, left knee) is probable.
Tip-Off: 6 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Unis: Gold Icon
Location: AT&T Center