Wayne Ellington 3 Things to Know

Three Things to Know: Lakers vs. Spurs - 11/14/21

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

The Lakers (7-6) host San Antonio (4-8) on Sunday afternoon at Staples Center, with a 12:30 p.m. tip on Spectrum SportsNet.

Below are three things to know about the matchup:

After building a 5-point lead at halftime against Minnesota on Friday night, the Lakers found themselves victims of a 40-12 onslaught in a decisive third quarter, which delivered a win for the Wolves.

“Obviously our effort hasn’t been good enough in the third quarter,” said Frank Vogel. “(Minnesota got hot from three), but we were getting beat to loose balls, weren’t taking pride in protecting the rim … I think we lost four or five loose balls consecutively.”

Of course, the Lakers have been dealing with serious injury issues, missing five rotation players, most notably LeBron James. That’s led to some players playing more minutes than expected, such as Carmelo Anthony’s 37- and 38-minute efforts in back-to-back overtime wins on Monday and Wednesday. ‘Melo, who’s been terrific all season, didn’t seem to have his legs as he hit only 1 of 12 FG’s.

Nonetheless, they expect, and need, a much better effort than they managed in that third period.

“We have to decide who we want to be,” said Anthony Davis. “We won’t win a championship the way we’re playing … we gotta be better. That was embarrassing. To be up five at half … there was no effort in the third quarter.”

Talen Horton-Tucker, who has yet to play this season due to a thumb injury, was upgraded to probable for Sunday's matchup. His playmaking and on-ball defense have been sorely missed.

Meanwhile, prior to Friday’s game, Frank Vogel had a positive update on LeBron, who missed a fifth straight game due to the rectal abdominis strain he suffered against Houston on Nov. 2.

LeBron has resumed some on-court basketball activities.

“His rehab is progressing nicely,” said Vogel. “This does not look like it’s (going to be) an extended stretch.”

LeBron is truly day-to-day as he approaches a return. That, of course, doesn’t mean he’ll be ready to play against San Antonio on Sunday, but it means he’s getting close.

The NBA switched basketballs this season, from Spalding to Wilson, and the differences between the balls has been a topic of conversation around the league, even with Wilson trying to replicate the ball.

We asked Wayne Ellington, a longtime sniper, what he’s noticed thus far.

“Definitely an adjustment,” he allowed. “It’s a different ball ... they tried to simulate the ball that we’re all used to but obviously it’s different. Just got to get used to it. Get reps up with it. What can you do, man? Got to make it happen.”

Ellington then got more specific.

“The leather is a little different on it,” he explained. “The seams aren’t as deep. Where it used to say Spalding, now it says Wilson, it’s not as deeply engrained into the ball so it’s a little bit more slick from that standpoint. I think those are really the only details that I’ve seen but like they say, a basketball is a basketball.”

Ellington was only 2 for 7 against Minnesota, but has been getting into a better rhythm nonetheless, hitting at least two triples in four straight games, including four against Miami. New ball, or not!

“I got some reps in,” he concluded. “I made sure I got some of those basketballs in my hands this past summer so I could get ready.”

As a team, the Lakers rank sixth in 3-point shooting on the season, at 37.0 percent, while San Antonio comes in at 13th, shooting 35.0 percent. In terms of made threes, the Lakers rank 17th (12.0) and the Spurs just 29th (10.2).

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