The San Antonio Spurs improved to 48-16 Wednesday by coasting past the reeling Portland Trail Blazers due to superior depth and health. San Antonio’s next opponent, the Los Angeles Lakers, have played most of the season without guards Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash and will play Friday without their two future Hall of Famers.
The Spurs have had their share of injuries too, but since small forward Kawhi Leonard‘s return from a hand injury San Antonio has been unbeatable. San Antonio seeks their ninth straight win with Leonard in the lineup on Friday, assuming Gregg Popovich doesn’t do something strange or Kawhi is bit by the sick bug unexpectedly.
In December Leonard missed a game for a dental procedure, so nothing’s absolute. The Spurs went on to lose to the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-100. OKC is 3-0 versus San Antonio this season, but did stumble 114-110 in LA to the Lakers on Sunday to move the Spurs a half-game ahead of the Thunder in the Western Conference standings.
San Antonio has had better success in Los Angeles, eclipsing the Los Angeles Clippers 113-103 at Staples Center Feb. 18 to avenge a 115-92 blowout loss. The Spurs also stomped on the Clippers 116-92 on Jan. 4 at AT&T Center.
The Lakers conversely were recently handed their worst loss of the season by the Clippers 142-94 and fell to San Antonio 91-85, both Lakers home games. The Spurs bested LA by six points to start November thanks to Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili wreaking havoc with 24 and 20.
San Antonio began the game down 13-4 and eventually trailed by as many as 15 points during the second period. The Spurs however went on a 7-2 run to force a Lakers timeout. Following a Wesley Johnson layup San Antonio got the hoop and the harm from Leonard and Tiago Splitter before a Parker jumper with five minutes left sliced Los Angeles’ lead down to a pair.
The Spurs and Lakers exchanged blows throughout the second half; however, San Antonio ultimately had the last laugh thanks to timely shots. LA turnovers and being unable to get a jump ball with Leonard and Johnson were pivotal as well in the final three minutes.
However, it’s been so long since these two teams have faced off we could be in store for another thirst quencher or a mauling. A lot will depend on who plays and who doesn’t. Popovich is known for resting players although even if all the Spurs play it’s human nature to let your guard down when facing an inferior opponent.
The Lakers played at Oklahoma City late on Thursday making the chances they’ll be competitive even less probable. Then again Los Angeles lost by only eight points at the Denver Nuggets after getting crushed by 48 to the Clippers.
San Antonio fans will be giddy for offense though for the Lakers surrendered 142 and 134 points. Excluding the OKC game on Thursday, the Lakers, who are 4-10 in their last 14 games, have yielded at least 106 points in 11 of their last dozen games.
The Spurs have hit triple digits on the scoreboard 12 of their last 14 games and are 15-3 since February. The Lakers may put up a fight, but at the end of the night home court, coaching, depth and talent should prevail.
Tags: San Antonio Spurs