The Los Angeles Lakers are much more competitive than expected with first-year coach Luke Walton at the helm and they seek their seventh win in the past nine games when they host the San Antonio Spurs on Friday. Los Angeles didn’t win its seventh contest last season until Jan. 1 (in game 34), and gets a chance to test themselves against the perennial playoff contender Spurs.
The Lakers notched a 20-point victory over the Golden State Warriors during the eight-game stretch and a standard is beginning to form in that neither Walton nor the players were all that thrilled with their play in Tuesday’s 125-118 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. “To me, it seems he would rather play the right way, play for each other and lose a hard-fought game than to win the wrong way,” second-year forward Larry Nance Jr. told reporters of Walton. San Antonio is a blistering 6-0 on the road after recording a 110-105 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday and has won four straight games overall. Center Pau Gasol tallied a season-best 24 points against the Kings for his third 20-point outing of the season.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, KENS (San Antonio), Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)
LINE HISTORY: The line opened at 6.5 and has held firm at that number. The over opened at 208 and has dropped half-point to 207.5. Check out the complete line history here.
Spurs – C Dewayne Dedmon (out Friday, knee)
Lakers – SG Nick Young (probable, illness)
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Spurs (-10.8) – Lakers (-6.5)+ home court (-3) = Lakers +1.3
WHAT SHARPS SAY: The Spurs will aim to keep their undefeated road record intact Friday against the Lakers. To do so the Spurs will need to limit a Lakers team that is second in the NBA in scoring at 110 points per game. Surely something will give here as the Spurs give up just 96.8 points a game.
ABOUT THE SPURS (9-3 SU, 6-5-1 ATS, 6-6 O/U): Gasol is starting to click with forwards Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge after struggling to find his way in the early stages. “We’re at our best when we move the ball, when we make the defense work, and we find the open guys,” Gasol said afterward. “We get much better shots that way, and pays off. It creates a flow and energy that carries over to the defensive end.” Aldridge (21) and Leonard (20) also had at least 20 and Popovich complimented Gasol by saying, “it’s a totally new system for him, but he’s intelligent, he’s experienced and he’s doing well.”
ABOUT THE LAKERS (7-5 SU, 8-3-1 ATS, 8-4 O/U): Point guard D’Angelo Russell and power forward Julius Randle are thriving under Walton’s tutelage and displaying that they are pillars in Los Angeles’ foundation. Russell poured in a season-high 32 points against the Nets and leads the team with a 16.8 average, while Randle had 17 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double. “He is continuing to get better and really realize what he is capable of doing,” Walton told reporters of Randle.
DANCE TEAM BATTLE:
* Spurs are 4-1-1 ATS in their last 6 road games.
* Lakers are 7-1-1 ATS in their last 9 home games.
* Lakers are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Over is 4-0 in Lakers last 4 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The road favorite Spurs are picking up 53 percent of the early action from Covers users. The over is getting 65 percent of the totals action. View full consensus data here.