Although the Los Angeles Lakers are no longer in playoff contention, their competitive tenacity was unwavering. The Lakers took the contending San Antonio Spurs into overtime to unhinge their gameplay and land a 122-112 victory.
The light skin connection was on full force as forward Kyle Kuzma scored 30 points and guard Josh Hart making 10 rebounds. All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 28 points and two-time NBA Champion Pau Gasol earned 12 rebounds.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton decided to depend on the efforts and determination of his bench, calling on guard Tyler Ennis and forward Channing Frye down the stretch.
“We needed everyone to beat [San Antonio], that team is playing as anyone in the league right now,” Walton said. “Our guys, they competed and they competed with a purpose.”
The exciting matchup consisted of 17 lead changes, both teams tied 21 times. The Lakers swept San Antonio in their season for the first time since the 1997-98 season; the team is ranked fourth in the west.
“We played down to the wire, we made stops when we needed them,” said guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. “We didn’t turn the ball over as much as we usually do.”
The Spurs found an early six-point lead midway through the first quarter. In a span of three regulated minutes, the Lakers rallied back, making plays on both ends of the court. Lakers center Ivica Zubac blocked a shot of guard Tony Parker’s. Los Angeles shot with accuracy and came within one point of the Spurs at the end of the first quarter.
“[Zubac] held down the paint for us,” said Ennis. “The second group does a good job of just coming in and moving the ball.”
Zubac guarded the Lakers frontcourt with physicality and Channing Frye kept the Lakers in the game with baskets. Guard Tyler Ennis connected with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope for an Alley-Oop.
The Lakers went on a 6-2 run to get a three-point lead, but guard Patty Mills nullified their effort with a three-pointer. The Spurs stayed dominant with close-range shots, Mills and Aldridge scored eight points each.
As the Lakers continued to battle with San Antonio, but could only tie their score. By halftime, the Spurs were ahead 61-58.
Frye noticed the fight in the Lakers bench and was glad to aide them on court. The veteran forward racked up 19 points.
“I think that [Zubac] has done a great job rolling and he is in phenomenal shape,” Frye said. “[Ennis] has done a great job making reads and is just receptive of me just trying to teach them and help them score.”
The Lakers battled their way out of a six-point deficit in the third. Aldridge spearheaded the San Antonio offense and scored 12 points. The Lakers had trouble shooting, allowing Gay and Aldridge to created an eight-point run.
Early in the fourth quarter, Caldwell-Pope helped the Lakers out of a six-deficit. The Lakers led through most of the final period. Guard Josh Hart attributed that to the team’s rebounding and defensive intensity.
“We did that, we were able to go in now on the offensive side,” he said. “We made big shots.”
Forward Rudy Gay and Aldridge kept the Spurs competitive by tying up the game as the clock ran down. Dejounte Murray also gave the Lakers problems, tying the game at 108.
Kuzma went on a five-point run to start the overtime period. Mills put the Spurs within four with a jumper. Caldwell-Pope hit a clutch three, giving the Lakers a seven-point lead.
“I didn’t want to lose that game,” Kuzma said. “We have been losing the past couple of games so I just tried to kill.”
The Lakers will play the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, April 6, at 7:30P.M.