Lakers shake off slow start, late rally by Spurs for a win

There was no doubt that there would be exciting moments, that was clear by the line of reporters filming Victor Wembanyama’s every step during pregame.

Forget that the Spurs have won just 11 games this season — the No. 1 pick’s first game in Los Angeles against the Lakers certainly qualified as a big deal — even if the outcome was always a probability.

The Lakers eventually bullied their way to a 123-118 win, their talent edge undeniable against Wembanyama and the baby Spurs.

Yet Friday’s game against the Spurs served an additional purpose than a West Coast introduction to a player the Lakers will likely battle with for the next decade plus. It was the last shot to work out some kinks before the schedule enters one of the most critical stretches to date.

Beginning Sunday in Phoenix, the Lakers play seven of their next nine games against teams with better records — including one against the Golden State Warriors, who just beat the Lakers and are surging from the No. 10 spot in the West.

And on that front, there were positives and negatives in the Lakers’ first home game after the All-Star break.

The offense continued to surge with LeBron James returning to action, he and Anthony Davis leading an undefeated starting five — along with Rui Hachimura, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell — to its sixth straight win.

James, who missed the Lakers’ last two games as he received treatment on his bothersome left ankle, quickly found an offensive rhythm as he pushed Spurs defenders around the court. Davis, facing one of the few players in Wembanyama who impact the game in similar ways that he does, scored 28 to go with 13 rebounds.

Wembanyama didn’t disappoint — swiping five steals, blocking five shots and dishing eight assists to go with 27 points and 10 rebounds. It was one of the rare “5 by 5” games in league history, when a player has at least five in five different stat categories.

He had 13 points in the first quarter to stake the Spurs to a 15-9 lead. The Lakers then scored 12 in a row to start a 19-2 run to take control.

James led all scorers with 30 points to go with nine assists and seven rebounds. Russell contributed 22 points and six assists. Hachimura had 17 points and seven rebounds while Reaves added 10 points with nine assists.

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