There should be plenty of fireworks between the San Antonio Spurs and the Los Angeles Lakers when the two teams meet on Sunday for the first time this season at the AT&T Center in the Alamo City.
The stakes always are higher and the spotlight a little brighter whenever the Lakers, LeBron James and his posse hit town, and that certainly will be the case on Sunday.
Though it’s early in the season, both teams have shown that they can be among the elite in the loaded Western Conference. Each is 4-1 after five games and head into Sunday’s game after impressive road wins on Friday: San Antonio over Golden State and Los Angeles over Dallas.
The Lakers’ offseason makeover has been well documented as has the Spurs’ practice of taking the under-the-radar route while pushing for their 23rd consecutive trip to the postseason, which would be a record in any North American sports league.
Patty Mills came off the bench to score 31 points on Friday to lead the Spurs to a 127-110 win at Golden State. LaMarcus Aldridge racked up 22 points for the Spurs, who were playing the second game of a road back-to-back and coming off their first loss of the season a night earlier against the Clippers in Los Angeles.
Mills was 6 of 9 from 3-point range and finished just three points shy of his career high of 34 points.
“We’ve taken a lot of pride in how we carry ourselves as a second unit and what we have to do in terms of changing the tempo of the game and bringing that energy,” Mills said about the strong effort by the Spurs’ bench. “Not only holding our own, but increasing that energy and effort level.”
Rudy Gay added 16 points, Bryn Forbes had 14, DeMar DeRozan scored 13 points and contributed 11 assists, and Derrick White hit for 10 for the Spurs in the win. San Antonio played without starting point guard Dejounte Murray, who rested his surgically repaired right knee after the game on Thursday.
Aldridge, who had eight rebounds, broke the 8,000-rebound mark and became the first NBA player to reach the 8,000-rebound and 18,000-point milestones since he was drafted in 2006. A seven-time All-Star in his 14th season, he’s racked up 18,689 points in his career.
James produced a triple-double (39 points, 16 assists and 12 rebounds) and helped rally the Lakers to a 119-110 overtime win at Dallas on Friday night. Los Angeles scored the first seven points in overtime and never trailed in the extra session.
Anthony Davis added 31 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Lakers, who captured their fourth straight win. But the victory would not have been possible without former Spur Danny Green, who had 14 points, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.
“I’ve been in that situation multiple times, many times. And I’ve missed. Sometimes you’re gonna miss,” Green told the Los Angeles Times about the buzzer-beater. “It takes a lot of patience and a lot of failure. But you’ve gotta go take that next shot and don’t worry about it.”
The Lakers trailed by as many as 15 points in the game but turned things around in the second half.
“We just couldn’t make a shot to start the game,” James said. “But the most important thing, we continued to defend. That’s what’s always going to keep us in the game.”
San Antonio owns an 89-82 all-time edge against the Lakers, including winning three of the four games between the two teams last season. The Spurs have taken 53 of the 86 games played against Los Angeles on their home court.