It is always nice to receive praise, but when it comes from someone that is considered one of the best coaches in the history of the NBA, it means a little more than normal. Gregg Popovich was really impressed with what he saw from Luke Walton in his first year as a head coach. Popovich feels that Walton has gotten his young players to buy in and really compete, even against a more dominant team. As expected, the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Los Angeles Lakers by a score of 116-107, as reported by ESPN.
The Los Angeles Lakers were without starting guard D’Angelo Russell, who is out nursing a sore knee. His absence enabled three other members of the back court to step up on offense.
Nick Young is a bit of a streaky shooter, but against the San Antonio Spurs, the starting shooting guard was very efficient from the field. He managed to score 22 points for the Los Angeles Lakers, with four of those from beyond the three point line. The rejuvenated veteran provided enough of a perimeter presence to keep the Spurs defense on their toes.
Jose Calderon started in place of D’Angelo Russell. However, the veteran guard was only given 13 minutes by Luke Walton. Louis Williams and Jordan Clarkson were given a lot of minutes off the bench, and they rewarded Walton with a combined 44 points.
Julius Randle did not put up a ton of points, but the starting power forward did come close to a triple double with 13 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping that he can be an all around threat like Lamar Odom.
Brandon Ingram was given 27 minutes off the bench. The rookie small forward struggled mightily with his shooting, making only one of the nine shots that he took.
When the San Antonio Spurs spread the ball on offense, they are really difficult to beat. On Friday night, seven players scored in double digits, which is the way that Gregg Popovich likes it. Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge, the top two stars on the team, led the way.
LaMarcus Aldridge provided 23 points, which tied for the team lead with Kawhi Leonard. Not normally known as a great defender, the starting power forward also provided the San Antonio Spurs with three blocks and two steals. Aldridge has been trying to figure out how to fill the defensive void left when Tim Duncan retired.
Kawhi Leonard came pretty close to a triple double with 23 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The 6-foot-7 small forward missed five shots from beyond the three point line, but he did manage to get to the free throw line eight times by being especially aggressive in the paint.
The starting back court of Tony Parker and Danny Green combined to produce 26 points and 13 assists for the San Antonio Spurs.
Pau Gasol won a pair of NBA Championships while playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he received a warm welcome from the audience. That does not come as a surprise because the fan base also showed him respect when he played against them as a member of the Chicago Bulls.
The reserve back court for the San Antonio Spurs did a pretty good job as well. Patty Mills and Manu Ginbobili combined for 21 points and six assists off the bench.
Even though his team failed to secure a victory, Luke Walton was pleased with the game because his players kept competing all the way until the end. Of course, he would have preferred that his guards focused a little more on defense, though.
[Featured Image by Sean M Haffey/Getty Images]