Here is what you need to know before the Lakers face the San Antonio Spurs in their penultimate road game of the season.
After being held to only two points in Saturday’s loss to the LA Clippers, D’Angelo Russell bounced back in fiery fashion. The starting shooting guard went off for 28 points against Memphis the next day, while also managing six rebounds and five assists to lead the Lakers to a come-from-behind victory.
Despite missing their top two centers, Ivica Zubac and Tarik Black, due to injuries, the Lakers nonetheless dominated the glass against the Grizzlies. Three players — Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr. and Thomas Robinson — each tallied a double-double for the first time since December 2014, as L.A. enjoyed a 51-33 rebounding advantage.
The Lakers are looking to avoid a repeat of their last game against the Spurs, when they fell by 21 in February. Brandon Ingram was the lone bright spot, putting up a career-high 22 points in what was a turning point for his rookie season. A week after that contest, he began a 12-game double-digit scoring streak that is still active.
The Spurs have been red hot of late, winning eight of their last nine games. They have achieved this record through some suffocating defense, as they lead the league in points allowed (94.9), turnovers forced (15.7) and points off turnovers (21.4) during this stretch.
With the playoffs coming up in a hurry, San Antonio has already shown that it is capable of competing with the best. Against the other teams with the NBA’s top five records — Golden State, Houston, Cleveland and Boston — the Spurs sport a 9-2 record.
MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard — who ranks among the NBA’s top 10 in scoring (26.0) and steals (1.83) — has been at the heart of his team’s success. Most recently, he carried the Spurs in Tuesday’s overtime victory over Memphis, racking up 32 points and a dozen rebounds.
The Lakers will be visiting an old friend, as Pau Gasol has thrived in his role as San Antonio’s sixth man. Since being moved to the bench, Gasol has seen his scoring average improve by 2.3 points to 14.0, and he has become a deadeye from deep. The Spaniard has hit at least one 3-pointer in nine straight games, going 15-of-22 from beyond the arc (68.2 percent).
While Tim Duncan retired in the offseason, the Spurs still start his longtime pick-and-roll partner, Tony Parker, at point guard. The year hasn’t been easy for the 34-year-old, who is averaging his fewest points (10.1) since his rookie season and ranks just 38th in the NBA in assists (4.6), tying him with the likes of Sacramento backup Ty Lawson and Memphis center Marc Gasol.
This will likely be the Lakers’ last meeting with Gregg Popovich before he passes one of their own legends among the all-time coaching leaderboard. The five-time champion currently owns 1,149 NBA victories, putting him only six behind Phil Jackson for the sixth-most in league history.
Popovich is also looking to secure his 11th straight win over the Lakers. After dropping the first three games of the year against San Antonio, L.A. will look to end its series losing streak and avoid a second straight sweep.
Lakers: Brandon Ingram (right patellar tendinitis) is probable. Tarik Black (mild left knee sprain) is questionable. Ivica Zubac (high right ankle sprain) is out.
Spurs: Danny Green (left quad contusion) and Dejounte Murray (left groin) are TBD.
Tip-Off: 5:30 p.m. PT
TV: Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes
Radio: 710 ESPN and 1330 KWKW
Click here to view game notes for this contest.
A post shared by Los Angeles Lakers (@lakers) on Apr 4, 2017 at 1:14pm PDT