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San Antonio Spurs Dethrone LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers With Hot Shooting, Snap 18-Game Losing Streak

It was a party from behind the arc for the San Antonio Spurs Friday night, as they recorded a clip North of 40 percent en route to their first win in over a month against the Los Angeles Lakers to hand LeBron James his first loss against Victor Wembanyama. 

With the long-awaited matchup between Victor Wembanyama and LeBron James finally set to commence, all eyes were on the San Antonio Spurs’ colorful City Edition court as Wembanyama won yet another tipoff. 

The Spurs hadn’t won since Nov. 2 and were currently on their franchise-worst losing streak, but the challenge remained. Face James and the Lakers for a second straight night, hold them down offensively and you win. Maybe. 

Let James take over and — even without Davis — make things happen offensively, and you lose. Also a maybe, but given the way San Antonio had played, it was too likely. 

The Spurs made sure they aligned with the former. They started hot right away and used the momentum to carry them throughout the game, and they won. They broke their losing streak, held back the Lakers and finally got their win for the first time in over a month, topping Los Angeles 129-115 at the end of the fourth. 

Hot shooting from behind the arc told the story for the Spurs, who seldom see a clip as high as they did. They hit 18 total shots from deep for a 43 percent clip, which helped them play up on Los Angeles for a majority of the night. Wembanyama had a slow start offensively, but woke up down the stretch to record his seventh straight double-double with 13 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks. 

Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell led the way scoring-wise for the Spurs, combining for 53 points on the night as Vassell went for a career-high 36 points.

James, on the other hand, had his way all night. By the end of the first half, the 38-year-old veteran had 18 points and it wasn’t long after that that he got his double-double, tallying 14 assists and as the Lakers’ floor general.

Dec 15, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; San Antonio Spurs forward Keldon Johnson (3) reacts after scoring a three pointer during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Frost Bank Center.

© Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

From the jump, San Antonio made clear that it came to play. Back-to-back corner 3s from Johnson allowed it to get out to an early 13-4 lead after Vassell knocked in a shot from deep himself. And after the early lead was built, the Spurs just kept rolling. 

Both Johnson and Vassell finished the first quarter with two 3-point makes, Wembanyama notched a pair of blocks and every starter for the Spurs scored multiple times — making for the third-most points in a single quarter in franchise history — whereas the Lakers only found offense from four total players. The lead was up to 20 by the end of the first, and off to the second period both teams went. 

Wembanyama checked back in at the beginning of the second quarter after leaving for the latter part of the first period and instantly found the bucket again. 

And the 3-point trend continued. 

As soon as he checked in for the first time of the evening, Doug McDermott knocked down a wing 3-pointer to keep the Spurs up by 23 points. From there, both teams began to go back-and-forth, which unfortunately for the Lakers, meant a prolonged deficit. That was, until the end of the half. 

San Antonio continued to hit from deep, but apart from those sporadic points, not much was coming from inside the arc. The Lakers slowly but surely crept back into the game, led by James, who was either facilitating or scoring himself. The highlight of the half came when Wembanyama backed him into the right corner, seemingly taking away his options, but James made the opposite come true. 

With Wembanyama’s hands straight in the air, he hit a rainbow 3-pointer to cut the lead to just six points. San Antonio then added back one point, and that’s how both teams went to the locker room: the Spurs leading 69-62

After Los Angeles responded to the Spurs’ 40-point quarter with one of its own, the game continued on in the second half with more back-and-forth action. The Spurs found a groove once again to double their halftime lead a few minutes into the third quarter, and Wembanyama forced Lakers coach Darvin Ham to call his first timeout after notching a 3-pointer of his own to bring him one rebound away from a double-double. 

And by time he subbed out for the first time of the half, he had it.

The latter half of the third quarter featured more Lakers and less Spurs. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Austin Reaves cut the home team’s lead to just 10, and a Christian Wood dunk made it single digits once again. Jarred Vanderbilt got into foul trouble late in the third, which allowed the Spurs to breathe offensively, but not by much.

A second James tomahawk slam by James gave the Lakers some momentum, though as quickly as they gained it, they lost it. Two straight misses by Cedi Osman in the final 12 seconds threatened to send San Antonio to the fourth with a 14-point lead, but as both shots swirled the iron, it remained at 11. 

And the fourth quarter commenced. 

A series of misses in the first minute of the final period didn’t deter the Spurs, as Vassell floated in a midrange fadeaway followed by another McDermott 3-pointer. San Antonio built its lead up to 15 and kept it that way thanks to Osman, who scored two straight buckets to disrupt a Los Angeles run. 

Wembanyama caught a pass on the left corner and put the icing on the cake from there, throwing down a dunk that rattled the rim multiples before going in. At that point, San Antonio led by 18. Los Angeles attempted to battle back, but the lead was too much for it — not even james able to bring his team all the way back. 

Dec 15, 2023; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard LeBron James (23) argues a call with official JB DeRosa (22) during the first half against the San Antonio Spurs at Frost Bank Center.

© Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Spurs went on to snap their 18-game losing streak and secure a 129-115 home victory to dethrone “The King” and the Lakers.

With the win, the Spurs improve to 4-20 and earn their first win since Nov. 2 against the Phoenix Suns. They got their revenge on Los Angeles for a game prior and finally got back in the win column for just the second time at home.

Now with a win under its belt, San Antonio’s next test comes against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans — a game that will once again see Frost Bank Center packed and also honor Spurs legend Tony Parker, with a re-raising of his jersey and San Antonio’s championship banners.