DeRozan’s 36 points fuels Spurs past Lakers 133-120
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Jakob Poeltl and Davis Bertans walked off the court to huge cheers and the embrace of San Antonio Spurs veterans Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge.
In a game filled with All-Stars like Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan and LeBron James, the Spurs relied on a gritty effort from Poeltl, Bertans and their bench to salvage a victory.
DeRozan finished with 36 points and nine assists and the Spurs had eight players score in double figures in a 133-120 come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
James finished with 35 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for Los Angeles, but was held to four points and no rebounds in the fourth quarter. James bristled when told Bertans and Poeltl were not players anyone expected would beat the Lakers.
“Why not,” James said. “Why wouldn’t you think they could beat you? They’re NBA players. They made big shots. Bertans made big shots. He made four 3s in the fourth quarter.”
The Spurs’ young posts combined to score 23 points in the final quarter, with Poeltl finishing with 14 and Bertans 13.
“We really clicked with our second unit,” Poeltl said. “We had so much fun together out there playing. I sure found my spots there.”
The Spurs’ bench outscored the Lakers’ 52-26, including 14 from Patty Mills, in winning the season series 3-1.
Los Angeles led by as many as 15 points, but was outscored 32-13 beginning early in the fourth quarter and fell behind 121-114.
“We can’t give our foot off the gas,” Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said. “I think we did that a little bit in the fourth slowing down a little bit. Defensively, we obviously need to do better.”
Kuzma finished with 27 points and Lonzo Ball had 13 points and 11 assists for the Lakers.
DeRozan had 11 points in the fourth quarter and San Antonio was 4 for 7 from beyond the arc in its comeback.
The run turned Aldridge into a spectator as Poeltl played all but one minute in the fourth and Bertans played 10 minutes. Aldridge didn’t seem to mind, actively cheering from the bench and joining the injured Gasol in greeting Poeltl and Bertans with a smile and high-fives after they exited the game in the final minute.
“That group was playing well, so we left them out there and they were wonderful,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Spurs opened the fourth quarter on an 18-6 run and pulled within 108-107 with 7:43 remaining. Mills punctuated the run with a layup after drawing a foul on James near the Spurs’ bench that led to his teammates encircling and celebrating with him on the sidelines.
“I think that was the key to tonight’s victory,” Mills said of the team’s spirits. “It’s probably the first game and first win that everyone felt like it was fun, including the fans. Everyone was involved emotionally (more) than any game this season.”
Poeltl’s big night did not surprise DeRozan, who has played with the 7-footer for his entire career.
Poeltl played alongside DeRozan for Toronto in his first two seasons before both were traded to San Antonio in the offseason in a deal that sent Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green to the Raptors.
“Jakob’s my rookie,” DeRozan said. “So, to see Jakob in the position that he is in now, I know what he can do. I’ve seen it from the start. His whole development, I’ve seen him working after practice. His growth, everything. Tonight is not a surprise for me at all. That’s what I’ve been seeing him doing and what I expect him to do.”
Lakers: James was listed as rookie in the game notes. . Rajon Rondo missed his 10th straight game following right hand surgery, but is nearing a return. Rondo worked out on the court prior to the game with teammates Isaac Bonga, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Ivica Zubac.
Spurs: Belinelli became the first player in league history with at least 50 3-pointers for nine different teams. . Pau Gasol, who missed his 17th straight game with left foot soreness, was walking without a boot. There is no timetable for his return. . Bertans has made 200 career 3-pointers.
Lakers: At Memphis on Saturday night.
Spurs: Host Utah on Sunday night.
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