Lakers hit the road, get Spurs for two straight

NBA

The Los Angeles Lakers hit the road for the first time this season when they square off against the Spurs on Thursday night in the first game of back-to-back matchups in San Antonio over a three-day period.

Los Angeles heads to San Antonio after a 115-107 loss to Portland on Monday in the Lakers’ second game in two nights. The setback snapped a two-game winning streak for the Lakers, who finished their season-opening homestand 2-2.

LeBron James had 29 points, nine rebounds and six assists for Los Angeles in the loss. Dennis Schroder added 24 points, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope 14, and Anthony Davis had 13 points and 10 rebounds in his return from a one-game absence due to a bruised calf.

Los Angeles got just 23 bench points, led by Montrezl Harrell’s nine, as the team largely struggled on the second night of a back-to-back.

“We were kind of stuck in mud a little bit,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “I don’t know (why). We just had trouble sustaining that intensity. We just weren’t moving the ball that well.”

It was the first time the Lakers had lost a game they had led entering the fourth quarter in more than a year. They had run off 59 consecutive victories when leading after three quarters, spanning the entire James/Davis era in Los Angeles.

“I liked the lineup that we had out there,” Vogel said, “but we just weren’t able to get the job done.”

Alex Caruso missed the game under the NBA’s health protocols, becoming the first Lakers’ player to miss a regular-season game because of COVID-19.

Three of the Lakers’ next five games will be against San Antonio, with the teams matching up in Los Angeles on Jan. 7. In between, the Lakers will play two games in Memphis. NBA games typically aren’t scheduled in the same market in succession, but the pandemic has forced the schedule-makers, and the players, to adapt.

“Now, this is the real deal,” James said. “All the games count. It’s going to be very different, we believe.”

The Spurs head home after absorbing their first loss of the season, 98-95 at New Orleans on Sunday. San Antonio had a chance to tie the score, but DeMar DeRozan’s 3-pointer in the final seconds was blocked.

The Spurs committed 15 turnovers in the loss, were outscored at the foul line 21-8, and allowed 13 offensive rebounds to New Orleans.

Rudy Gay scored 22 points and Lonnie Walker IV 16 for the Spurs in the setback, which came on the road end of a home-and-road back-to-back. Keldon Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Dejounte Murray scored 13 points but had six turnovers.

“At this point in the season you go play,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “There haven’t been enough games; nobody can say that they’re tired or anything like that. You have to play on back-to-backs and try to bring the energy again, and either we’ll have it or we won’t.”

Patty Mills added 10 points for San Antonio on the night he became just the 10th player in franchise history to play his 600th game for the Spurs.

Los Angeles went 3-0 against San Antonio last season.

–Field Level Media

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