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New Year, Same Result

The San Antonio Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers-again.

That is starting to become a theme in recent years. 18 times in the last 21 meetings, 6 straight overall, 8 straight in Los Angeles. The closest game in this span has been 2 points on two occasions.

Friday night the Spurs once again toppled their arch rival 116-107. But this time it wasn’t the same Lakers we’ve been used to seeing of late. The team that went 65-181 from 2014-2016 was nowhere to be seen. Instead, a young, hungry ball club rallied from a an early 13 point first half deficit and hung toe to toe with the big boys.

Kawhi Leonard did his part, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. But it wasn’t until Lamarcus Aldridge went off in the fourth quarter that the Spurs were finally able to seal the deal. His 23 points helped the Spurs stay perfect on the road and win their fifth game in a row in the first meeting between these two longtime rivals since the retirements of both Tim Duncan and Kobe Bryant last season.

“They’re talented,” Tony Parker said of the Lakers. “They play hard for Luke. They play with great energy, and they have a lot of pieces. Now it’s all about chemistry and how they’re going to gel.”

“Luke has done a great job of making them believe and playing aggressively, and you can really see it,” said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who earned his 1,099th win to pass Larry Brown for seventh place on the NBA’s career list. “They came back and stuck it to us. … We got after it and executed better, but I am just so impressed with what (Walton) has done with this group.”

San Antonio blew a 13 point first half lead, then nearly blew a 17 point lead in the fourth quarter as the Lakers rallied behind 24 points from Lou Williams and 20 points from San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson. But the Spurs, who used a 39 point third quarter to take the lead for good, put the game away when Tony Parker made a pull up jumper with 36 seconds to go and putting the Spurs up 113-107.

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