San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Bench Game Takeaways
By Albert Pérez Oyola
Home sweet home. The San Antonio Spurs improve to 8-4 when playing in the Alamo City as they defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 133-120 with plenty of help from the bench.
It didn’t look as if the night would end up with the Silver and Black sharing celebratory high fives once the final buzzer went off. The San Antonio Spurs looked outmatched for most of the game falling to double-digit deficits at different ventures during the game, including losing by 12-points in the fourth and final quarter.
Coach Popovich went to the bench with a lineup that included Patty Mills, Derrick White, Dante Cunningham, Marco Belinelli, and Jakob Poeltl to start the quarter. It almost seemed as if Coach Pop had waved the white flag, even though it has been customary to have these players start the frame.
Instead, the bench unit made an incredible run to get the Spurs back in the game.
White was soon replaced by Davis Bertans, and that move began the demise of the Los Angeles Lakers as the combination of Poeltl and Bertans went berserk during the quarter to bring down LeBron James and company.
The Lakers didn’t know what hit em’ or what to do to contain the Spurs lineup.
Bertans was unconscious from downtown hitting four shots from beyond-the-arc and even converting a four-point play. The Latvian sharpshooter ended with 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting (all seven attempts from downtown).
"From Latvia!" ??
Have a night, @DBertans_42! #GoSpursGo https://t.co/g9oXpEE3Um
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 8, 2018
Poeltl was just a monster down low making plays from the pick-and-roll, getting to the basket at will, and he even performed a put-back dunk. He was simply everywhere and provided a tremendous energy boost to the entire team.
The Austrian hustler finished with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 24 minutes of action.
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Coach Pop decided to replace Cunningham with DeMar DeRozan, but left the rest of the bench lineup intact. DeMar provided the finishing blows to put the Lakers away for good and come up with the victory.
DeRozan had an outstanding game while flirting with a triple-double scoring 34 points, grabbing 8 rebounds, and dishing 9 assists. He went 11-of-20 from the field and was rewarded for his aggressive play by going 14-of-18 from the charity stripe.
He has been providing constant production all year long, especially against the Lakers as he has scored over 30 points in each of the four matchups.
LeBron wasn’t able to duplicate his magical performance from the prior game as he failed to provide much offense during the fourth quarter. He did torch the Spurs for much of the previous three quarters as he still ended up with 35 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds.
He appeared to have come out trying to make a statement after the Spurs mistakenly had him listed as a rookie on the pre-game notes.
Maybe LeBron really is insulted #Spurs labeled him a rookie in the game book… smh…just in the 1st half… 23 pts, 8 asts, 7 rebs, 1 steal… #Lakers
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 8, 2018
The Lakers did score 120 points, and the Spurs once again allowed way too many easy buckets as their defense remains troublesome.
However, the Spurs’ fourth quarter lineup held the Lakers to 21 points for the frame while scoring 44 of their own. That group showed promising signs of being able to contain opposing offenses, and showed effective chemistry on the offensive side of the ball.
The Spurs bench scored 54 points against 26 from the Lakers’ second unit.
The season series against the Lakers is over and the Spurs were able to win 3-of-4 games, with the lone loss coming against LeBron’s unreal fourth quarter in Los Angeles.
The Spurs continue to make a case against the tanking war-cry from its fans.
San Antonio is now two games back of the 8th-place Sacramento Kings in the Western Conference, and only five-and-a-half games from first place. They also currently sit in 13th place in the conference and in great position to snatch a top 10 pick in the draft.
This season has seen a rather strange occurrence within the West as no game is guaranteed. On Friday night the second-place Thunder lost to the 6-20 Chicago Bulls, and the first-place Nuggets lost to the 12-13 Charlotte Hornets, so literally anything can happen this season.
Quick @TheAthleticNBA Popovich reaction… on Poeltl’s play… and #Spurs beating #Lakers pic.twitter.com/GzGNePqfoT
— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 8, 2018
The best course of action for us as fans is to sit back, relax, and let the season play itself out.
No outcome appears too detrimental for our Spurs who seem to be in one of those win-win situations. Continue winning and make a splash in the West, or continue losing and get a lottery talent in the draft to pair up with two All-Stars and a returning Dejounte Murray next season.
Things are looking good either way.
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The Spurs will be at home for the next five games, and face the Utah Jazz on Sunday at 6:00pm CST.