Stars do what stars do: Five takeaways from Lakers’ win over Spurs

Lakers star LeBron James drives against San Antonio Spurs' Rudy Gay and Derrick White.
Lakers star LeBron James, right, drives against San Antonio Spurs’ Rudy Gay (22) and Derrick White during the second half of the Lakers’ 109-103 win Friday.
(Darren Abate / Associated Press)

The Lakers opened the new year with a 109-103 defeat of San Antonio, improving their record to 4-2 with a unique two-game sweep of the Spurs.

Here are five takeaways from the Lakers’ victory on Friday night in San Antonio:

1. Let it fly, AD.

Anthony Davis took a season-high six three-point shots and made four, giving the Lakers tons of spacing on the court and opening driving lanes for his teammates.

After the game, Davis said the Lakers want him to be at a high volume from deep every game, and he needs to keep working to get those shots up.


“I’m very comfortable. … Coach wants me to shoot at least five, average five, a game this year. I had a lot of good looks. Sometimes I pass up for a better shot. But I just got to shoot it,” Davis said after the win. “Any time I can shoot a high volume, I usually shoot pretty well from the field. I can’t let missing one or two affect my thought process of shooting them. I just got to continue shooting them, knowing it will help the team.”

Anthony Davis scores 34 points and LeBron James finishes with a triple-double to lead the Lakers to a 109-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Jan. 1, 2021

2. Stars do what stars do.

Between Davis’ big game and LeBron James’ first triple-double of the season, the duo scored 60 points and helped the Lakers prevail during a game in which neither team could grab control.

What does it take to leave those kind of nights with wins?

“Get a good shot. Get a great shot, actually,” James said. “Put yourself in a position where you’ve been successful in your career, or you’ve been successful with that team. One thing that we know for sure is we have a great one-two punch with myself and AD who closes out games, and we also have so many complementary guys that can make big shots too.”

3. KCP is optimistic after injury.

The way Kentavious Caldwell-Pope grabbed at his left ankle before he landed told you that the injury could be a bad one. But X-rays led to a diagnosed “mild sprain,” with Caldwell-Pope even opening the door for a return in one of the Lakers’ games against Memphis.

Since the postseason, Caldwell-Pope has been a critical part of the Lakers’ plan, a role player with a complete grasp on what he’s supposed to do on the court.

Highlights from the Lakers’ 109-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday.


“His confidence is at an all-time high,” James said. “He knows what his value is to this team and he knows what he’s about. And what he brings to our team is perfect in his role. A guy who is a catch-and-shoot three-point player. A guy who is a great cutter, great in transition and also can just get a lot of movement. Getting defenses shifted because of his speed. So, it works for our team perfectly. When you have that confidence in yourself and it trickles down to the team, we know how big of an asset he is and obviously hated to see him go down tonight. It was just hoping for the best, which it is.

“It is the best-case scenario with the turned ankle, and we should have him back in no time.”

4. Play ball!

The Lakers wrapped their first baseball-style road series with two wins in San Antonio, the second coming with the team getting over a number of mental hurdles to grit out a late win.

“It’s a difficult mental challenge doing the baseball schedule type of thing that teams are doing throughout the league where you play a team and especially if you win that first one, you stay in the city, we’ve been here four days and then you come back and play that same team, especially like the Spurs are undermanned,” coach Frank Vogel said. “There’s a mental challenge to that that I think teams are going to see throughout the year. I think you see a lot of splits in these situations and we were susceptible to that tonight, but like I said, we were able to persevere and get the W.”

Kyle Kuzma, though, said he thought the schedule was favorable because it allowed players to recover after games instead of traveling.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it made perfect sense for Becky Hammon to take over as coach after his ejection since the Lakers were her scout team.

Jan. 1, 2021

“I think it’s something the NBA should really [consider] keeping even as we kind of get back to normal,” Kuzma said.


5. Leave it to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to take a historical moment like Becky Hammon being the first woman to coach in an NBA game and put it in perfect context.

Here’s what he had to say about it pregame:

“That was her game. As you all know, we’re very participatory. I like to have my coaches coach,” Popovich said. “The Lakers were her scout team. It made total sense for her to take over. That’s what we’ve done for decades. That’s nothing new. But on the bigger question of her having taken over a NBA game, to me, it’s not a big surprise. To a lot of other people it meant a lot. I can understand that. She’s somebody who’s very skilled and could very easily fulfill the duties of a head coach in the NBA. That goes without saying. There are women in every other endeavor in the world, whether it’s government, science, technology, aviation, it doesn’t matter what it is. Women do the same jobs as well and better than men. That’s a fact. There’s no reason why somebody like Becky and other women can’t be coaches in the NBA. On a larger scale, that’s why it wasn’t a big deal to me — because I know her. And I know her skills, and I know her value and I know her future is very very bright. I understand the attention it got, but in all honesty, I assumed that most people already knew that she was qualified to be a head coach in the NBA. `

“We didn’t hire Becky to make history. She earned it. She is qualified. She’s wonderful at what she does. I wanted her on my staff because of the work that she does. And she happens to be a woman, which basically should be irrelevant, but it’s not in our world, as we’ve seen as it’s been so difficult for women to obtain certain positions. It was business as usual for us.”