Spurs look to get back on track versus surging Lakers
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San Antonio will look to get back on track and take advantage of its home floor when it goes back to work against the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas.
The Spurs, who have lost four of their past five games and seven of their last 10 outings, gave up a 15-point, second-half lead on Wednesday when they lost to surging New Orleans 121-116. It was an uncharacteristic loss for San Antonio because of two things: The Spurs' lack of interior defense in the final minutes and three turnovers in a stretch of four possessions in the clutch with the game on the line.
"We were in a good situation to still win the game, and we struggled on the stretch," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "We didn't execute well. Our defense kind of melted down. We fought hard and we scrambled, and we competed. Sometimes that's not enough -- you have to play well, too. That wasn't there down the stretch."
San Antonio (36-26) played the second half without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge, who landed awkwardly and sprained his right ankle midway through the first quarter.
Pau Gasol was also out of the game with a bone bruise in his left knee, and the short-handed Spurs could not keep up with the high-flying Pelicans in the end game.
"I couldn't be more proud of our group," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "Under very, very tough circumstances, they keep fighting. As long as they believe in each other and keeping working as hard as they are, we're going to be in good shape.
"They deserve a lot of credit for playing as hard as they're playing. A lot of guys are getting a lot of time out there and, hopefully, that will pay dividends as the season winds down."
Aldridge has been listed as doubtful for Saturday's game while Gasol is questionable.
The Lakers run into the Alamo City on the heels of a 131-113 victory at Miami on Thursday in which Isaiah Thomas scored a season-high 29 points off the bench.
Los Angeles (27-34) has won four straight games and seven of its past 10, a surge that's helped in advance to within shouting distance of the eighth-seed, and the playoffs, in the Western Conference with 23 games to play in the regular season.
"We have the talent to win and I want this team to think we're going to win," Thomas said afterward. "We have the players in this locker room to win and the only thing we should be thinking about is trying to take that next step -- and that's get to the playoffs."
Julius Randle added 25 points, Brandon Ingram added 19, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 18 and Kyle Kuzma finished with 16 points for the Lakers as they won in Miami for the first time since Feb. 10, 2008. Los Angeles shot 59 percent and made 16 of 29 from 3-point range.
The Lakers have won 16 of their past 23 games and have already eclipsed their win total from all of last season. Los Angeles has captured three straight games on the road.
"We're sharing the ball, pushing it and playing at the pace we like to play at," Lakers coach Luke Walton said after the win in Miami. "Tonight we were making the simple extra pass instead of trying to hold for quick shots or try to make spectacular passes."
Los Angeles beat the Spurs on Jan. 11 in the two teams' first meeting of the season and have won two straight against San Antonio. The Spurs still have won eight of the past 10 against Los Angeles and own an 86-79 all-time edge over the Lakers, including a 51-32 advantage at home.
The Spurs and Lakers have the two best overall winning percentages in NBA history.
Updated March 3, 2018