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Lakers trip barrels on in San Antonio, against dominating Spurs

The Spurs' Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard await the resumption of play during a playoff game against the Clippers in San Antonio on April 30, 2015.

The Spurs’ Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard await the resumption of play during a playoff game against the Clippers in San Antonio on April 30, 2015.

(Darren Abate / Associated Press)

The Lakers (3-19) play their seventh-straight road game on Friday night, visiting the dominant San Antonio Spurs (18-5). After the perfect 23-0 Golden State Warriors, the Spurs are the only team in the league with a winning percentage above 66.7% -- at 78.3%.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are the closest, atop the Eastern Conference standings at 14-7.

The Spurs play at a slower pace, holding teams to just 88.7 points a game, lowest in the NBA. San Antonio scores 99.9 points a game, a point-differential of 11.2 a night.

Meanwhile, the Lakers score 97.5 a game while giving up 106.3.

Jordan Clarkson is questionable for the Lakers because of a sprained ankle. Spurs guard Tony Parker is expected to sit out to rest, while forward Kawhi Leonard is ill and will be a game-time decision.

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Key matchup

While Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant probably won’t match up together, the two represent the best players of their generation -- or maybe multiple generations given they’re in their 19th and 20th seasons, respectively.

Both have played their entire careers with the same organization -- both have five championships to show for it.

Historically, Duncan swept Bryant and the Lakers in 1999, winning his first title against the New York Knicks.

The Lakers won the next three championships from 2000 to 2002, defeating the Spurs twice over that span with an 8-1 record.

San Antonio got even in 2003, ending the Lakers’ run in the second round of the playoffs in six games, leading to Duncan’s second title, over the New Jersey Nets (now in Brooklyn).

Derek Fisher’s dramatic 0.4 shot helped knock the Spurs out in 2004, the Lakers winning in six games. San Antonio won again in 2005 and 2007 against the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively.

The Lakers beat the Spurs in five in 2008. After Bryant tore his Achilles’ tendon in 2013, the Spurs easily swept the Lakers in the first round. Duncan’s team went on to win the 2014 NBA Finals over the Miami Heat.

In what is probably the final playoff tally, the Lakers and Bryant finish ahead, 18-16, with the Lakers winning four of seven series.

Discounting the four games Bryant missed in 2013, Bryant led the Lakers to an 18-12 advantage head to head against Duncan and the Spurs.

X-factor

Forward LaMarcus Aldridge, in his first season with the Spurs is averaging 15.4 points a game on 44.5% shooting, along with 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists.

The Lakers are expected to start rookie Larry Nance Jr. against Aldridge, but the more intriguing matchup will be when Julius Randle comes in off the bench. In his two games as a reserve, Randle is averaging 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds, shooting 50.0% from the field.

Outlook

The Lakers have played relatively well in recent games but haven’t managed to pull out more than three wins. The Spurs are a tough, tough opponent.

Look for the Lakers to lose their fifth straight game.

Email Eric Pincus at Pincus at Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.


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