DeMar DeRozan, Spurs Beat LeBron James, Lakers 110-106; Lonzo Ball Held to 6
San Antonio, TX - OCTOBER 27: DeMar DeRozan #10 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers on October 27, 2018 at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Mark Sobhani/NBAE via Getty Images)

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The San Antonio Spurs defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 110-106 at AT&T Center on Saturday night to complete a two-game sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers this week that started with a 143-142 overtime victory in Southern California on Monday.

DeMar DeRozan flirted with a triple-double to the tune of 30 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while LaMarcus Aldridge chipped in 15 points on 7-of-16 shooting.

LeBron James spearheaded the Purple and Gold charge with a game-high 35 points and 11 boards on a night when he passed Dirk Nowitzki for sixth on the NBA‘s all-time scoring list. Lonzo Ball, who started even with Rajon Rondo back from a three-game suspension, managed six points on 2-of-8 shooting.

     

DeRozan’s Passing Elevating His Game to Next Level

In years past, the book on DeRozan was rather straightforward. He was one of the league’s premier volume scorers, and he could burn you from any spot on the floor. However, he was never a real threat to carve up defenses as a passer since Kyle Lowry was locked in as the Raptors’ primary facilitator.

That’s changed in San Antonio.

With Dejounte Murray (torn ACL) done for the year, DeRozan has adjusted on the fly and morphed into a dynamic distributor in the mold of some of the league’s premier combo guards.

To wit: Entering Saturday night, DeRozan was averaging 7.8 dimes a night after dropping an average of 3.1 per gamer during his nine-year tenure north of the border. Plus, DeRozan ranks sixth in points generated off his assists (19.0), according to NBA.com.

The only players with superior marks are Lowry, James Harden, LeBron, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul.

Against the Lakers, DeRozan added eight assists to his ledger while maintaining his sweet-shooting disposition.

“That was always the next part of my game I really wanted to elevate,” DeRozan said Monday, per the San Antonio Express-NewsTom Orsborn. “I know I can score with the best of them. I want to be a player that can score at a high level but also makes his teammates better and put trust in them. It makes the game fun. Those guys know whether I’ve got it rolling or got it struggling, I’m going to find them.”

If DeRozan can keep it up in concert with a surge in the win column a few months down the line, don’t be surprised if he surfaces as a dark horse in the MVP race.

     

Stephenson Proving to Be Lakers’ Diamond-in-the-Rough Signing

When the Lakers signed Lance Stephenson to a one-year, $4.5 million deal on July 10, jokes abounded and bewilderment reigned supreme.

But now that we’ve seen Stephenson in action alongside LeBron and the Lakers’ young core, that reaction feels unfair.

While Stephenson has evolved into a meme supreme over the course of his enigmatic NBA tenure, he has made good on the Lakers’ trust and parlayed big minutes off the bench into a starring second-unit role.

Stephenson entered Saturday with the top offensive rating (115.5) among all Lakers with at least 100 minutes played (i.e. rotational regulars), per NBA.com, and he looked sharp again Saturday with 14 points, nine rebounds and two dimes off the bench.

Thanks to that effort, Lance is now averaging 16.3 points, 7.0 boards and 4.7 dimes over his last three games as he’s settled into a groove following two showdowns against the Spurs and Thursday’s win over the Denver Nuggets.

“When Lance steps on the floor, he’s a spark for us,” James said Thursday, per Omnisport (via Yahoo Sports). “… He’s worked wonders for our team, that’s for sure.”

As it turns out, Lance’s game is no laughing matter after all.

     

What’s Next?

The Lakers will wrap up their two-game road trip Monday at Target Center against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Spurs will also be in action Monday when they host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks for an intrastate tilt.

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