SAN ANTONIO • Before Sunday night's National Basketball Association game, the San Antonio mascot approached one courtside celebrity hoping to change his allegiances.
Snoop Dogg, on tour in Texas, watched as the green-eyed coyote approached him with a pizza box containing a Spurs jersey personalised for him. But the rapper, who was in purple sweatpants and a shinier purple bomber jacket, was at the AT&T Centre only to see the Los Angeles Lakers.
He took the jersey before hiding it under his jacket with a sly grin, though what he saw on the court was not likely to change his mind anyway.
The Lakers may not have made it easy for themselves but did enough to make it five wins in a row with a 103-96 triumph.
LeBron James scored 21 points with 11 rebounds and 13 assists for his second triple-double in two games and became the first Laker to have back-to-back triple-doubles since Lamar Odom in 2006.
Fellow All-Star Anthony Davis led all scorers with 25 points, while adding 11 rebounds and two assists. Avery Bradley added 16 points.
While the Spurs stayed in the contest through a team-high 18 points from Dejounte Murray, the visitors were able to hold them off, boosting predictions they can finally end a six-year postseason drought.
James, who missed a career-high 27 regular-season games last term, later told reporters that, after suffering a torn groin last year, he had to "put a lot of hard work into my off season by getting my quick twitch".
"Even when I came back, it was still partially torn. It was difficult to be able to move and shift like I'm capable of doing that defensively," the forward said.
"For me, I just take the challenge. I love being challenged.
"My mind has always been there. I'm playing injury-free, my speed is back, my strength is back."
Davis and James are looking every bit the star duo Lakers fans had hoped they would be, but their winning streak can also be attributed to the strength of their reserves.
Last time a Laker (Lamar Odom) completed consecutive triple-doubles, before LeBron James' effort on Sunday.
Preseason predictions that they had a weak bench now appear wide of the mark, with Dwight Howard making the most of his second stint with the team.
Although the reserve centre is not the rock he once was when he made eight straight All-Star appearances until 2014, he is still one of the league's elite rebounders.
After adding 14 points and grabbing a game-high 13 boards, Lakers coach Frank Vogel praised the 33-year-old for "buying into his role on this team and dominating on the defensive end".
Howard, too, is happy to lend his experience to a relatively untested bench since returning in the summer to a team he spent the 2012-13 season with.
Dubbing the reserves the "Bad News Bears", he told the Southern California News Group that he was moulding them so that they can continue to "bring bad news" to their opponents.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA