Preview: Spurs at Lakers
The San Antonio Spurs look to post their third straight win in the season series when they visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday for the opener of a home-and-home set. San Antonio recorded a 143-142 overtime victory in Los Angeles on Oct. 22 and registered a 110-106 home triumph over the Lakers five days later.
Both losses to San Antonio came during a 2-5 start for the Lakers, who have since put things together by capturing 12 of their last 16 games. Los Angeles has won its last three contests by an average of 14.3 points, and Monday’s 120-96 rout of Phoenix marked its largest margin of victory this season. The Spurs have lost three of their last four games, with all of the defeats coming by more than 30 points – including Tuesday’s 139-105 setback at Utah. Coach Gregg Popovich was dismayed with the latest whipping, telling reporters, “We’re very challenged defensively.”
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE SPURS (11-13): San Antonio’s defense was virtually nonexistent in Tuesday’s loss as the team allowed the Jazz to shoot 60.7 percent and sink a franchise-record 20 3-pointers on 33 attempts. The Spurs have given up an average of 127.3 points over their last six games, and the effort versus Utah marked the third time they have allowed 135 or more during the stretch. “I think we’re just not aggressive enough. We’re very passive,” center Jakob Poeltl told reporters after the defeat. “We’re trying to change that, but somehow we still fall into bad habits. We’re being the reactors instead of forcing them to go where we want them to go.”
ABOUT THE LAKERS (14-9): LeBron James is averaging just 34.7 minutes – the lowest mark of his 16-year career – and visibly has displayed frustration at times when coach Luke Walton removes him from a contest. Walton said he is making sure the soon-to-be 34-year-old remains fresh throughout the season, while James insists he can play a full game without being subbed out. “I want to play 48 minutes a game. Seriously,” James told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “But it’s not going to happen. It’s not smart. It’s not smart on anyone’s behalf, but it’s just the competitive side of me.”
1. James averaged 33.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and nine assists in the two previous meetings with the Spurs this season.
2. Poeltl scored a career-best 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting against the Jazz.
3. Los Angeles PG Rajon Rondo (hand) participated in Tuesday’s practice and could return on Friday, when the teams meet in San Antonio.