Lakers player grades: L.A. cruises past the Spurs

Friday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs was a matchup that featured one of the NBA’s greatest big men in Anthony Davis and a rookie in Victor Wembanyama who could become the best big man or best overall player within five years. The 7-foot-4 French phenom showed everyone why he has that type of potential, especially early in the contest.

Wembanyama scored 13 of the Spurs’ first 15 points as the Spurs went up 15-9. But soon after he went out of the game for his first rest, the Lakers started to assert themselves with 14 unanswered points, which allowed them to take a 13-point first-quarter lead. An 85-70 third-quarter lead got trimmed to 93-90 with 1:12 left in the period, but L.A. got it back into double digits early in the fourth quarter.

The team seemed to be in cruise control for much of the second half, but it was enough for a 123-118 win over the worst team in the Western Conference.

The Lakers have had the annoying habit of playing down to the level of their competition all season long, and that habit was on display at times against the Spurs. But the important thing is the fact that they improved their record to 31-27, although they have now fallen to 10th place in the Western Conference.

But they have now won 12 of their last 18 games. After Thursday’s loss to the ninth-place Golden State Warriors, a win, even a somewhat lackluster win such as this one, was needed to sustain at least some of their recent momentum.

Anthony Davis: A-minus

Davis was quiet in the opening minutes, as he picked up two early fouls during Wembanyama’s early flurry and had to play cautiously afterward. But he remained in the game, and late in the first period, he got going offensively with some help from LeBron James, who got him some easy baskets at the rim.

He had 20 first-half points, and he continued to score with relative ease in the second half. Davis finished with 28 points on 10-of-14 shooting and 13 rebounds in 29 minutes (he didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter).

He did allow Wembanyama to score 27 points while also adding 10 points, eight assists, five steals and five blocked shots. Meanwhile, Davis didn’t have a single blocked shot, which is a rarity for him.

Rui Hachimura: B-plus

Hachimura helped the Lakers build a sizable lead with nine points in the second quarter. He was their most effective 3-point shooter, as he knocked down three of his four attempts from that distance, and overall, he shot 7-of-11 from the field to 17 points.

The Japan native also chipped in seven rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot in 28 minutes.

Austin Reaves: B-minus

Reaves’ up-and-down offensive output continues. He shot a strong 2-of-5 from 3-point range, but other than that, he couldn’t get his shot to fall. He was just 4-of-12 from the field, which limited him to 10 points, while he also committed five turnovers.

But he did dish off nine assists, and he also contributed five rebounds and two blocks to help the Lakers’ cause.

D'Angelo Russell: B-plus/A-minus

On his 28th birthday, Russell bounced back from a rough outing on Thursday and looked more like the player who lit up opponents throughout January. He started to heat up in the second quarter with nine points in the period, and he shot 8-of-18 overall and 3-of-7 from downtown to score 22 points on the night.

With six assists against one turnover, Russell also continued to do a fine job of facilitating and hitting the open man.

LeBron James: A

James missed L.A.’s last two games with an ankle ailment, but he looked like his usual self against the Spurs. He scored 10 points and had six assists in the first half, but he turned things up afterward.

With the Lakers looking to hold off the Spurs, he looked to be assertive offensively after halftime, and he finished with 30 points on 13-of-22 shooting. He also had nine assists and seven rebounds.

The 39-year-old seemed to be moving around easily and with little or no difficulty, and he looked like his usual self while attacking the basket and looking to create transition opportunities. That is a hopeful sign moving forward when it comes to his ankle problem.

Spencer Dinwiddie: F

In 24 minutes, Dinwiddie missed all six of his shot attempts, three of which were 3-point attempts, and he had just one assist and one rebound. He’s clearly still feeling his way around his new team, and one should expect it to perhaps take several weeks for him to fully play like his usual self offensively.

Taurean Prince: C-plus/B-minus

Prince contributed a little bit across the board off the bench. He didn’t shoot well, but he scored five points while also contributing four rebounds, three assists and one steal in 19 minutes.

Jaxson Hayes: B-plus

Earlier in the season, Hayes often seemed like a non-factor. But lately, he has played with much more energy and vigor. On Friday, he scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting while claiming four rebounds and adding a steal in 19 minutes.

However, he didn’t block a single shot. The Lakers could use more rim protection from him, especially when going up against a paint threat such as Wembanyama.

Max Christie: B

In 13 minutes, Christie made his only shot attempt and added two rebounds and one block.

Jalen Hood-Schifino, Dylan Windler, Maxwell Lewis: Incomplete

All three players came in during the final minute of the game. Neither made any positive contributions on the stat sheet.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire