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Lakers fall flat in fourth as winning streak ends against Spurs – Orange County Register

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LOS ANGELES — A week ago in San Antonio, the Lakers had looked comfortable beating up the Spurs in their own empty arena twice in a row.

What they knew well – and what LeBron James especially had learned from experience – is that it is painfully hard to go 3-0 against the Spurs in any context. It won’t happen this season, either.

Some of the drag that the Lakers picked up during their four-game road trip followed them home Thursday night in their return to Staples Center: They were slow and discombobulated to start against a healthier San Antonio team that was raring to go right at them, as veterans LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan stuck in their daggers from all over the floor – even from beyond the arc, where neither is considered particularly dangerous.

The Lakers came to within two points in the fourth quarter, but they didn’t have a strong enough counter-punch in a 118-109 loss that ended a four-game winning streak and dropped the Lakers (6-3) to a 2-3 record on their home floor.

It was just the third defeat of the season for the Lakers, but a frustrating one. In the third quarter, Anthony Davis knocked over a cart holding a cooler near the Lakers’ bench after subbing out. He carried that smoldering energy with him even after the game was over.

“Our defense was (expletive) tonight,” Davis said. “We didn’t play one lick of defense and let them guys do whatever they want.”

The biggest problem was the Spurs’ 3-point shooting: They were 16 for 35 in the game (46 percent), hitting eight of their first 10, while the Lakers were just 10 for 30 from beyond the arc. Any meaningful Lakers rally seemed to be met with a San Antonio 3-pointer, and six Spurs had at least two 3-pointers.

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James led with 27 points and 12 assists, while a demonstrative Davis had 23 points and 10 rebounds. But their late-game heroics that had been enough to skate by on the road couldn’t dig them out of the hole late in the fourth quarter again.

In fact, the fourth quarter was their worst frame. The Lakers scored just 20 points in the fourth, going 8 for 26 from the field.

Not that there is much of an advantage to a home court this season: The lack of fans has made it just about as hard to win in friendly confines as on the road. And maybe for the Lakers, that’s part of the problem. But Coach Frank Vogel wouldn’t chalk up the listless stretches to being without the atmosphere an arena full of bodies provides.

“Energy and adrenaline, it could impact – it doesn’t change anything we’re doing,” he said. “We know what we have to do to execute at a high enough level to win a game. And we fell short tonight.”

The last meaningful sequence ended shortly after an out-of-bounds call favoring San Antonio was upheld upon video review. The Lakers were unhappy but got a stop – but when James drove and dished to Davis, he couldn’t bury a 3-point shot to cut into San Antonio’s 10-point lead. After the Lakers were forced to foul with just over two minutes left, James hung his head during a slow walk back to the bench.

One huge difference in the game was Aldridge, who had missed the first two meetings. The center looked more than spry hitting shots against the Lakers, knocking down 11 of 18 for a season-high 28 points. DeRozan was a tough cover early with 19 points with eight assists, and DeJounte Murray found his stroke in the second half, finishing with 18 points.

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Coming off a run of games in which he surged in the fourth quarter, James started picking things up in the third. He scored 14 in that quarter thanks to his deep range (4 for 7), but had just three points in the fourth.


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