The San Antonio Spurs snapped their franchise-record 18-game losing streak by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 129-115 on Friday night. Led by standout performances from Devin Vassell and rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama, the Spurs earned their first win since November 2nd.
Vassell Has Career Night While Wembanyama Impresses in Matchup With LeBron
Devin Vassell scored 29 points while Wembanyama put up 15 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks in the highly-anticipated showdown with Lakers superstar LeBron James. Vassell was electric all night, making five 3-pointers including a step-back triple to beat the shot clock in the fourth quarter.
Wembanyama showed flashes of brilliance in his first matchup against James, who sat out the last five minutes with calf tightness after putting up 21 points and 11 assists. The 19-year-old rookie had two sensational blocks on James at the rim in the second quarter, emphatically rejecting The King on back-to-back possessions.
James and Wembanyama embraced after the final buzzer in a show of mutual respect between generational talents. “He’s very special,” James said after the game. “The advice I gave him was to just be himself and not listen to what other people say.”
Anthony Davis Sits Out With Foot Injury as Lakers Battle Mounting Absences
The Lakers were severely shorthanded, missing Anthony Davis (foot), D’Angelo Russell (ankle) and Cam Reddish (wrist) in addition to long-term injuries to Austin Reaves and Lonnie Walker IV. Davis was a late scratch after being listed as questionable, while Russell and Reddish were both late adds to the injury report.
The mounting injury issues continue to plague Los Angeles, who faced a Spurs team equally depleted and hungry to end their epic slide. The Lakers got 34 points from Dennis Schroder and 25 points from Thomas Bryant, but faded down the stretch while running out of gas.
At 10-20, the Lakers are tied with the Rockets for the fewest wins in the Western Conference. They’ve now lost three straight games and sit 13th in the West ahead of only the last-place Spurs.
|2023 Western Conference Standings
|1. Denver Nuggets (21-9)
|2. Memphis Grizzlies (19-9)
|3. New Orleans Pelicans (18-12)
|4. Sacramento Kings (16-12)
|5. LA Clippers (17-14)
|6. Golden State Warriors (16-15)
|7. Dallas Mavericks (15-16)
|8. Portland Trail Blazers (15-17)
|9. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-15)
|10. Phoenix Suns (16-14)
|11. Utah Jazz (16-16)
|12. Oklahoma City Thunder (13-17)
|13. Los Angeles Lakers (10-20)
|14. San Antonio Spurs (7-23)
Spurs Snap Skid as Vassell and Wembanyama Guide Rebuild
For San Antonio, Friday’s win was a monumental relief after weeks of agonizing defeats. Six of the Spurs’ previous seven losses came by six points or less, including two overtime losses.
Vassell and Wembanyama helped lead the young core to a breakthrough, foreshadowing the Spurs’ future as they continue their rebuild. In addition to the dynamic duo, 20-year-old guard Malaki Branham provided a spark off the bench with 16 points. Former Laker Tre Jones chipped in 18 points and 12 assists.
At 7-23, the Spurs still have the worst record in the NBA. But with assets like Vassell and Wembanyama leading the charge, brighter days appear ahead in San Antonio. The franchise icons of the past have taken notice – from Tim Duncan praising Wembanyama’s skillset to Tony Parker sitting courtside for the win over the Lakers.
What This Means Moving Forward
For the Lakers, this loss places even more pressure on the front office to make a move to upgrade the roster and better support James’ pursuit of a fifth championship ring in his age 38 season. Clock’s ticking for Rob Pelinka and the Lakers’ brass to make something happen if they want to save this season. The February trade deadline looms large.
As for San Antonio, this galvanizing victory over the Lakers offers hope that the tides could slowly start to turn. Though still facing what will likely be a difficult, multi-year rebuild, the Spurs at long last have foundational pieces like Vassell and Wembanyama to rally around. With six more matchups against James and the Lakers upcoming, they’ll have ample opportunity to measure their progress in the years ahead.
Friday’s matchup marked the end of one historic streak and potentially the start of new beginnings for both storied franchises. The NBA’s past and future collided for 48 minutes, offering a glimpse into the unfolding transformations in Los Angeles and San Antonio.
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