Matchup: San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Records: Spurs (11-13); Lakers (14-9)
Where to Watch
Date: Thursday, Dec. 6
Time: 9:00 AM IST
TV: Sony Ten1
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
After a strong start to the season through the first eight games (6-2), including a win against the Lakers at Staples Center, the San Antonio Spurs' train has hit numerous speed bumps over the past month.
Since the Nov. 4 gameday, the Spurs have gone 5-11 in 16 games and four of these eleven losses, including the last three, have come by a margin of 20 or more points. In these past 16 games, the Spurs are dead-last in the league in defensive rating by allowing 115.7 points per 100 possessions, and with a 108.2 offensive rating, the resulting net rating of -7.5 lands them at 27th in the league (only ranking ahead of Chicago, Atlanta, and Phoenix).
Unfortunately, injuries have played a key role in the Spurs' season.
The team's starting guard Dejounte Murray was ruled out for the season with a torn right ACL even before the team tipped off their campaign and this came only a couple of days after the team's 2018 Draft pick Loonie Walker was ruled out for 6-8 weeks with a right medial meniscus tear. To make matters worse, last Thursday (Nov. 29), Pau Gasol was ruled out indefinitely with a stress fracture in his left foot.
Despite these injuries, San Antonio still has two All-Stars in DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge but both of them have not been able to lead the team to more than five wins over the past month. Road travel could be a reason for the team's struggles, having played only six of these last sixteen games at home at the AT&T Center but is the light at the end of the tunnel already here?
After this Lakers contest in Los Angeles, the Spurs are set to play seven of the next eight at home over a two-week stretch.
On the other hand, the season has been a completely different story for the Lakers. After a rough October with a 3-5 record, the Lakers have gone 11-4 since and the biggest difference in the two time-spans has been the team's defense which has been fueled by the acquisition of veteran center Tyson Chandler. In October, the team was ranked 23rd in defensive rating (112.4) but that rating improved to 103.5 since November, good for third-best in the league.
While Chandler took care of the team's defense, LeBron James carried the team's offense. Averaging 27.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.9 assists on 52.6% shooting from the field and 41.1% from beyond the arc in 15 games since November, James had a spectacular month. Not only did he erupt for 51 points in Miami and register a win in his return to Cleveland but he also crossed Wilt Chamberlain for fifth spot on the league's all-time scoring list.
Prior to the Nov. 5 gameday, the Lakers with their 14-9 record are the fifth seed in the West, only one game behind the 16-9 Golden State Warriors and trailing the top-seeded LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets by just a couple of games.
This Spurs game will end the Lakers' 4-game stand, one that would take them to a 4-0 homestand if they defeat San Antonio but the schedule ahead includes a lot of road games - six of the next seven including a 4-game Eastern Conference trip.
Last Time They Played
Date: Oct. 28, 2018
Score: Spurs 110, Lakers 106
Spurs: DeMar DeRozan - 30 points (14-of-23 FG's), 12 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals
Lakers: LeBron James - 35 points (13-of-21 FG's), 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals